New Delhi, Sep 14 : India will be seeking to deepen its ties with Asean with the visit of Vice President Hamid Ansari to two member countries of Cambodia and Laos from September 15-18.
Ansari will first visit Cambodia, on the invitation of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and then Laos.
Briefing reporters on the Cambodia visit, Secretary (East) in the ministry of external affairs Anil Wadhwa said Ansari will visit the ancient temple of Angkor Wat, a UNESCO world heritage site that India has helped to restore.
He will be meeting Prime Minister Hun Sen and other leaders during his visit that will seek to boost the bilateral economic ties that are below potential.
Cambodia has been growing at the rate of 7 percent and is seeking greater socio economic development, said Wadhwa.
Ansari’s visit would also see India seeking to step up its participation in infrastructure projects and capacity building as well as in trade.
Wadhwa said that Indian grant assistance for projects for social development would be inked during Ansari’s visit.
Ansari would also visit the Ta Prohm temple, which is located around one km east of Angkor Wat. India has been involved in the conservation of both ancient monuments, he said, adding the Indian vice president’s visit to the temples is hoped to encourage more people-to-people ties and tourism between the two countries.
Ansari would also meet members of the Indian community during his visit.
Then prime minister Manmohan Singh had visited Phnom Penh in November 2012 for the Asean-India Summit while then president Pratibha Patil had visited the Southeast Asian country in 2010.
Ansari’s visit to Laos would be the first vice presidential visit. He would also visit the ancient Vat Phou Shiva temple in southern Laos that predates the Angkor Wat.
He would meet Laotian President Choummaly Sayasone, Vice President Bounnhang Vorachith, Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith during his visit, said Wadhwa.
The bilateral trade ties with Laos are not reflective of the close ties that both countries share and there is need for increased connection between the Indian business houses and private enterprises with Laos, he said.
India has given Laos a Line of Credit of $165 million for infrastructure projects, including a transmission line, for hydropower and for irrigation schemes.
Over 1,500 Laotians have trained in India under various capacity building projects.
India set up the Laos-India Entreprenurship Development Institute in 2004 and another institute for teaching English.
The Archaeological Survey of India began restoring the Vat Phou temple in 2009 and India is to spend $4.1 million over eight years till 2017 towards restoration, Wadhwa said.
Since 1994, under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC), the Indian Army has been imparting training to Laotian defence personnel in English language, computers and basic tactics. India is the only other country besides Vietnam and China training the Laotian army, he said.