On Board Special Aircraft: President
Pratibha Patil on Saturday completed her two-nation state visit to
Laos and Cambodia in a bid to deepen economic and cultural
ties with the two key ASEAN countries as part of an effort to
boost India`s Look East Policy.
During the President`s successful ten-day visit, lines
of credit were extended to Laos and Cambodia and important
business pacts inked.
Talking to reporters on board the special aircraft,
Patil underlined that the visit aimed at reinforcing the deep
historical and cultural ties along with efforts to build a
dynamic economic and developmental relationship with the two
"My visit to these countries was undertaken to
reinforce the deep historical and cultural ties which India
has with these countries dating back to more than 2000 years,
and to build a dynamic economic and developmental partnership
on these foundations,? she said.
During her visit to Laos, which began on September 9,
India extended a line of credit worth USD 72.55 million to
finance two power projects in the country.
A Cultural Exchange Agreement for the years 2011-13
was also signed between the two nations.
Patil said Laos underlined its deep appreciation for
India`s continued assistance and support for its developmental
efforts through loans and assistance in the field of human
resource development, hydropower and irrigation schemes in
"I was informed that the National Assembly of Laos has
already approved the India-ASEAN Agreement on Trade in Goods
and only some administrative formalities remain prior to its
notification," she said.
Laos, a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, has also
indicated that it looked forward to investments from the
Indian private sector.
The Aditya Birla Group and Kirloskar already have a
big presence in Laos while the Tata group is exploring
possibilities of investment in the mining sector.
A 45-member business delegation, comprising of members
of CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM, travelled with the President, and
signed MoU with the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Laos.
Patil and President Choummaly Sayasone also
participated in a virtual inauguration of the 115 KV
Paksong-Jiangxi-Bangyo transmission line project in Champasak
province of Laos, where the government of India has provided a
line of credit for USD 18 million.
The Indian President and her husband Devisingh
Shekhawat were accorded a warm welcome at Phnom Penh when they
arrived on September 13 in Cambodia for the second leg of the
On Septmeber 14, Patil was given a ceremonial
reception by King Norodom Sihamoni.
A MoU for cooperation between the Comptroller and
Auditor General and the National Audit Authority of Cambodia
A USD 15 million Credit Line Agreement between the
EXIM bank on behalf of India and the Cambodian government was
signed for Phase II of the Stung Tassal Water Development
"I announced a financial grant of USD 246,000 for
upgradation of the Cambodia-India Friendship School," Patil
The primary school in Santhor district in Khampong
Chan province, which was given a grant of USD 300 in 1991, now
provides education to 239 needy students.
Patil also attended the foundation laying ceremony of
the Asian Traditional Textiles Museum being set-up under the
Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Programme between the two countries.
She also extended a formal invitation to King Sihamoni
to visit India. Even as he accepted invitation a suitable date
and time will be worked out soon.
In reply to a question, Patil said there was unanimity
between India and Cambodia for cooperation to combat
terrorism, organised crime and illegal trafficking.
She said there was great scope for tourism between the
two countries as their cultural ties go back to centuries.
"There is a need to enhance people to people contact
between the two countries," Patil said.
The President expressed regret that though trade and
investment from India to Laos and Cambodia had increased under
its Look East policy, there has been "limited progress?.
She was hopful that the visit would deepen India`s
economic and cultural ties with the two nations.
The President was accompanied by Minister of Tribal
Affairs Kantilal Bhuria and Members of Parliament Mohan Singh
of Samajwadi Party, Anandrao Adsul of the Shiv Sena and N
Peethambara Kuruppu from the Congress party along with several