PM leaves for Thailand to attend India-ASEAN, East Asia summits

      Emphasizing that he saw India's participation in the India-ASEAN and the East Asia Summits as a vital element of the country's vision of an Asian economic community based on an open and inclusive regional architecture, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, left on a three-day visit to Thai capital Bangkok this morning. Issuing a departure statement ahead of his visit to attend the Seventh India-ASEAN and the Fourth East Asia Summit in Bangkok, Dr. Singh said: "India's enhanced engagement with the ASEAN is at the heart of our 'Look East' Policy. The conclusion of the India-ASEAN Trade-in-Goods Agreement in August 2009 is a major first step in our objective of creating an India-ASEAN Regional Trade and Investment Area. India-ASEAN trade has grown at a healthy rate and stood at about US Dollars 48 billion in 2008. The India-ASEAN Summit is an occasion to review the progress in our relations with ASEAN countries. I will inform ASEAN leaders about the several initiatives that India has taken to qualitatively enhance our partnership in diverse areas of our cooperation." In pursuance of the theme of the ASEAN Summit of "Enhancing Connectivity, Empowering Peoples", I will discuss with the ASEAN leaders new initiatives to accelerate the process of our engagement in areas such as greater economic integration, people-to-people contacts, agriculture, human resource development, education, science and technology and information and communications technology. I will also attend the Fourth East Asia Summit on October 25. The East Asia Summit will review cooperation in five key areas - energy, education, finance, avian influenza and national disaster mitigation. The Summit will provide an opportunity to discuss regional and international issues of common interest, and future direction for community building and cooperation. Asia's response to the global economic slowdown, food security, energy security and climate change will be important issues of discussion. I am hopeful that the ASEAN and other countries of the East Asia Summit process will endorse the proposal for the establishment of the Nalanda University in Bihar as an international institution of excellence in education with a continental focus," he further said. The departure statement also said that he would have bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister of Cambodia, the Chinese Premier, the President of Indonesia, the Prime Minister of Japan, the Prime Minister of Singapore, the Prime Minister of Thailand and the Prime Minister of Vietnam.

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