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PM Leaves For Laos; India To Ink Pact With ASEAN Email this page
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New Delhi, Nov. 28 (NNN): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday left on a three-day visit to Laos for the third India-ASEAN Summit during which a long-term partnership pact for peace, progress and shared prosperity will be signed by the two sides.
The move is expected to give an added momentum to New Delhi's relations with the countries of the regional grouping.

"We expect to conclude a long-term partnership document between India and ASEAN during the summit," Singh said here in a statement before leaving for Laos capital Vientiane.

Singh said India attached high priority to strengthening and expanding the scope of India's mutually beneficial relations "with our neighbours in the East with whom we have profound civilisational ties".

These have translated into a long history of peaceful interaction, friendship, cultural bond and people-to-people exchanges, he added.

Singh said during his stay in Vientiane he will also get an opportunity to interact with the leaders of China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

"I expect to have bilateral meeting with several leaders who will be in Vientiane," he said.

Pointing out that Indo-ASEAN partnership "is steadily expanding and deepening", the Prime Minister said he looked forward to meeting and exchanging views with his counterparts in ASEAN countries on both regional and international political and economic issues.

He said the partnership document is the outcome of discussion between the governments.

It is significant that other stakeholders, outside the government have also participated in the process of developing this document and their views are reflected in it.

"This inclusive approach shall give added momentum (to relations) between India and ASEAN," the Prime Minister said.

Recalling that he had flagged off Indo-ASEAN rally in Guwahti on November 22, Singh said he and other ASEAN leaders would flag it off on it next leg at Vientiane.

"This will focus much needed attention of people in both India and in the ASEAN countries on the imperative need to develop better road connectivity, on the upgradation of infrastructure and in promoting tourism, trade and economic relations as well as people-to-people contact between us," he said.

Officials said the third India-ASEAN summit beginning tomorrow was aimed at boosting New Delhi's economic ties with the member countries and giving a new thrust to the 'Look East' policy.

India is also looking at the operationalisation of the comperhensive economic cooperation agreement during the summit.

External Affairs Minister Kanwar Natwar Singh, who will join the Prime Minister's delegation, is currently in Vientiane for the meeting of ASEAN Foreign Ministers being held for the first time on the eve of the summit.

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