President leaves on 10 day tour of Vietnam, Indonesia

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New Delhi , Nov 24 (UNI) President Pratibha Devisingh Patil left this morning for Ho Chi Minh City, erstwhile Saigon, to pay a four-day state visit to Vietnam, to be followed by a five-day state visit to Indonesia.

Ms Patil is the third Indian President visiting Vietnam after Dr Rajendra Prasad (1959) and R Venkatraman (1991). Former President K R Narayanan had visited the country in 1993 when he was the Vice President.

A high level delegation comprising Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath and three Members of Parliament, Haribhau M Jawale, Rubab Syedaand Agatha Sangma, are accompanying the President on the tour.

Prior to her visit, a business delegation led by FICCI had gone to Vietnam to identify areas to enhance trade and commerce between the two countries.

After a two-day stay, the President will leave for Hanoi on November 26, where she is likely to hold talks with her Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Minh Triet, and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

She will emplane to Bali in Indonesia from Hanoi on November 28 to begin her second leg of journey. From Bali she will go to Jakarta on November 30 and return here on December 3.

The President's tour, although tipped as ''reciprocal'' in nature, is aimed at further cementing India's bilateral relations with the two fast developing neighbouring ASEAN countries in the field of economy, trade and cultural exchange.

The two countries are also important for the country from strategical interest. India has already adopted a ''Look East Initiative.'' UNI KAS RJ CS1044

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