President leaves for Laos, Cambodia on Thursday to advance India's Look East policy

New Delhi, Sep 9 (ANI): To strengthen closer and enduring partnership with countries of ASEAN region as part of India's Look-East policy, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil left on Thursday for a state visit to Laos from September 9 to 13 and Cambodia from September 13 to 18.

President Patil is visiting Laos on the invitation of the President of Laos, Choummaly Sayasone, who paid a state visit to India in August 2008.

A delegation of senior officials and Minister of Tribal Affairs Kantilal Bhuria is accompanying President Patil on her visit.

"It would be President Patil's first visit to Laos, and only the second by an Indian President since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1955, soon after the visit of former Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1954, and the formation of the International Commission for Supervision and Control (ICSC)," said Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Vijaya Latha Reddy.

Apart from visiting Laotian capital Vientiane, President Patil and the delegation will also travel to Luang Prabang.

The visit of President Patil to Laos is meant to reaffirm India's commitment to further strengthen and consolidate bilateral relations, and enhance economic engagement and assistance in socio- economic development.

The President will also have discussions with President Choummaly Sayasone and Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh in Vientiane, apart from official talks between the two sides

After Laos, President Patil will travel to Cambodia from September 13 - 18 at the invitation of King of Cambodia Norodom Sihamoni.

India has "warm and cordial relations" with Laos and Cambodia, two important countries in the ASEAN region, who have supported India's bid for permanent membership of the UN Security Council, said Latha Reddy.

Apart from visiting Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, President Patil would be travelling with the delegation to Siem Reap where the world famous temples of Angkor Wat is located.

India and Cambodia enjoy a long standing shared historical affinity and close cultural ties. Cambodia is an important partner of India among the ASEAN countries.

President Patil's visit to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap will provide an opportunity for reaffirming and strengthening multifaceted bilateral ties, including commercial and investment relations.

Cambodia is also currently the coordinator on the ASEAN side for India-ASEAN relations. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)

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