Natwar Singh leaves for Asean summit in Laos

Friday, 26 November 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh left for Laos Friday for the India-Asean foreign ministers meeting Nov 27-28, ahead of the main summit to be attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The visit will coincide with the 3rd Asean Business Investment Summit in the Laotian capital Vientiane where 500 top industrialists from India, China, South Korea and the 10 member countries of the Asean are meeting at the high-profile event.

The Indian contingent will also get a chance to meet the participants of the first India-Asean Car Rally that was flagged off from Guwahati by Manmohan Singh Nov 22.

Manmohan Singh is scheduled to flag off the second leg of the rally from Vientiane Nov 30 along with the representatives of its co-organisers, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). The rally culminates in Indonesia.

"There are some inherent strengths that can be developed between India and Asean," Natwar Singh said ahead of the visit." We must now look to develop trans-national highways and railways lines connecting the region to India."

A convoy of 60 cars, with 240 participants from 10 countries, will feature in the road show, designed to push trade ties and showcase a viable land route through the region.

Last year, India-Asean trade amounted to $9.78 billion, around four times compared to the 1993-94 level of $2.5 billion. Efforts are being made to push trade to $30 billion by 2007-09 and a free trade area by 2011.

CII officials said the chamber's president Sunil Kant Munjal will lead the Indian business delegation to Laos that will interact with some 500 chief executives and industrialists from the region, especially the Asean members.

The 10 member countries of Asean are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

CII is also scheduled to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry for enhancing bilateral business and economic ties, officials said.

The CII delegation includes vice president Y.C. Deveshwar, director general N. Srinivasan, Kirloskar Brothers chairman Sanjay Kirloskar and Futurelinks chief executive Jesudas Bell.

Source: IANS
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