Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam),Nov.24 : To strengthen and further enhance India's bilateral ties with South East Asian countries, the Indian President, Pratibha Devi Singh Patil,reached Vietnam on Monday on the first leg of her ten-day tour to Vietnam and Indonesia.
She was received by Madam Naguyen Tin, the Chairperson of the Ho Chi Minh People's Committee,and officials of the Indian embassy in Vietnam.
The President's visit to these countries is being seen as part of an effort to give a fresh impetus to India's "Look East" policy.
During her visit to Vietnam, Patil will have discussions with President Triet and other leaders of Vietnam on ways to further strengthen our political and economic links which is a pivotal part of India-Vietnamese strategic partnership.
The President hopes that as a part of India's 'Look East Policy', India's endeavour will be to forge close relations with ASEAN countries, of which Vietnam and Indonesia are important members.
She said that her visit would seek to emphasize and promote this engagement in all its aspects.
The India-ASEAN Trade in Goods agreement, which was concluded recently, will open new possibilities for regional inter-linkages in commerce, she said.
Talking to the media onboard Air India One, President Patil said that Vietnam and Indonesia, as well as India, have been developing at an impressive rate in the past decade, according to their respective economic policies.
This, she said, has enabled higher interaction not only in the traditional areas of cooperation like trade and investment, but also in specific areas like capacity building, entrepreneurship development, science and technology among others.
She said: "I hope to have discussions on identifying additional areas of co-operation with these countries as well as exchange views on matters of regional and global interest including terrorism, energy security, food security, reform of the international organization, among others, in the current backdrop of the international financial crisis".
After Vietnam, Patil will visit Indonesia, where the emphasis will be on strengthing and diversifying the bilateral strategic partnership in discussions with President Yudhoyono.
She said that her visit to Indonesia, a friendly country with which we have had people to people exchanges for more than two millennia, have a historical character of their own, as seen through the strands of our shared cultural traditions.
She said: "My visit to Indonesia signals our commitment to have relations that befits two large nations who are neighbours, sharing a maritime boundary and the distance between the southern most island of the Andaman group and the north western tip of Indonesia is only 80 kilometers".
A business delegation is also accompanying the President on this visit to explore avenues for intensifying India's economic ties with both Vietnam and Indonesia. y Ravinder Singh Robin