India, ASEAN Sign Historic Pact Email this page
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Vientiane, Nov. 30 (NNN): Taking a step forward in their strategic ties, India and The Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) block of countries on Tuesday signed a historic partnership pact for peace, progress and shared prosperity, vowed to jointly fight international terrorism and decided to promote and facilitate cross flows of foreign direct investment.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who inked the 'ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity' pact with leaders of ASEAN countries at their 3rd annual summit, said that India and the regional grouping must work together for a future of shared prosperity if the 21st century is to be the Asian century.

Singh quoted late prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru's speech at the Asian Relations Conference in 1947 that Asian leaders must work jointly to draft a new future.

The agreement outlines a multi-pronged action plan for boosting trade, investment, tourism, culture, sports and people-to-people contacts.

The leaders agreed to intensify efforts to combat international terrorism and other transnational crimes like drug trafficking, arms smuggling, human trafficking, particularly of women and children, sea piracy and money laundering.

The powerful ASEAN grouping comprises Laos, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei. India along with China and other key countries are the dialogue partners of the grouping.

They agreed to foster closer cooperation in reforming and democratizing the UN and institutions under it by making them "more reflective of the contemporary realities."

The four-page partnership accord and nine-page action plan envisages their cooperation in multilateral fora particularly the WTO and in addressing common challenges of economic, food, human and energy security.

ASEAN Free Trade Pact: Meanwhile, The ASEAN and China have signed an agreement to create the world's biggest free trade area by removing tariffs for their two billion people by the end of the decade.

This is seen as a key step in the ASEAN countries' vision of a trade bloc to rival Europe and North America.

The accord aims to remove all tariffs by 2010, drawing ASEAN's combined economies of US$ 1 trillion closer to China's economy of US$ 1.4 trillion.

The accord is reflection of the ASEAN'S changing perception of Beijing. With the fastest growing economy in the region, China is now viewed as a very powerful, but also friendly neighbour.

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