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Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
India seeks closer ties with Asean
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
Vajpayee was addressing officials in Singapore
India is looking to develop closer ties with the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean).

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said the region was one of the focal points of India's foreign policy, strategic concerns and economic interests.

We have to confront terrorism

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
The Indian premier was speaking in Singapore before heading on to Cambodia.

India and the Asean countries are due to hold their first summit in November this year to boost economic and political co-operation.

Addressing diplomats, academics and senior government officials during a public lecture in Singapore, Mr Vajpayee urged closer regional co-operation against terrorism.

"We have to confront terrorism, which neither respects power, nor heeds size," he said.

"We have crucial stakes in protecting our common commercial sea lanes, combating piracy, choking off narco-trade and curbing gun-running."

Mr Vajpayee arrived in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh on Tuesday, the first prime minister to visit since 1954.

He was due to hold talks with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during which they were expected to sign agreements on launching direct flights between India and Cambodia, easing visa regulations for diplomats, and Indian assistance to repair an ancient Cambodian temple.

Mr Vajpayee was due to meet King Norodom Sihanouk on Wednesday, before leaving for northern Cambodia to visit the Angkor Wat temples.

Trade pact

Two-way trade between India and Asean currently stands at $8.5bn.

On Monday, India and Singapore agreed to look into setting up an economic partnership that would provide a strong footing for Indian companies in the Asean region, as well as encourage Singapore companies to invest in India.

Mr Vajpayee met his Singaporean counterpart, Goh Chok Tong, and signed an agreement to promote investment in telecommunications and encourage joint ventures.

Mr Vajpayee said the two countries will look at developing co-operation in areas such as bio-technology, information technology and aerospace.

Singapore is India's largest trading partner in the Asean group of countries, with commerce worth about 3.8bn.

See also:

07 Apr 02 | South Asia
Indian PM on 'Look East' mission
06 Apr 02 | South Asia
Green light for Pan-Asia road scheme
05 Apr 02 | South Asia
Burma hosts crucial trade talks
28 Jan 02 | South Asia
India and Asean to boost ties
19 Jan 00 | South Asia
Singapore woos Indian IT
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