Ties with Laos, Cambodia of strategic importance to India: President Patil

On Board Air India One, Sep 9 (ANI): President Pratibha Devisngh Patil, who is currently undertaking a ten-day official visit to Laos and Cambodia, today said that relations with both South Asian countries is of strategic importance to India.

"I believe India, Laos and Cambodia have much to gain by cooperating with each other in combating extremism and terrorism. I would like to add that both Laos and Cambodia have given us unconditional support for our candidature for permanent membership of the UN Security Council," she told mediapersons onboard Air India One while enroute to Laotian capital Vientiene.

"Our relationship with Laos and Cambodia are of strategic importance as well. I look forward to an exchange of views with Laos and Cambodia on how we can promote greater stability and security in the region," she said.

"My visit to Laos and Cambodia - two important countries in South East Asia, will reaffirm our pursuit of a closer and enduring partnership with the countries of the ASEAN region, as part of our Look East policy," President Patil said.

"As Country Coordinator for India from 2003 to 2006 in ASEAN, Laos played a proactive and supportive role for enhancing India's profile in the region. Currently, Cambodia is the coordinator on the ASEAN side on India-ASEAN relations, and we recall that it was under its Chairmanship of ASEAN, that India attained Summit level partnership. I expect to discuss our growing engagement with ASEAN countries as we move towards the next India-ASEAN and East Asia Summits in Vietnam in October," she added.

President Patil will be in Laos from September 9 to 13 and will then visit Cambodia from September 13 to 18.

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

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. (ANI)

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