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India signs historic partnership pact with ASEAN countries

Tuesday 30 November 2004

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Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono applauds as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh shakes hands with Laotian PM Bounnhang Vorachith after signing India-ASEAN accord, in Vientiane, Laos on Tuesday. Photo: AP

Vientiane, Nov 30.(PTI): Heralding a new era in their relations, India and 10 ASEAN countries today signed a historic partnership pact for peace, progress and shared prosperity and pledged to co-operate in fighting international terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The ’ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity" agreement inked by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and leaders of ASEAN countries during their 3rd annual summit here outlines a multi-pronged action plan for boosting trade, investment, tourism, culture, sports and people to people contacts.

The leaders agreed to intensify efforts to combat international terrorism and other transnational crimes like drug trafficking, arms smuggling, human trafficking, particularly of women and children, sea piracy and money laundering.

The powerful ASEAN grouping comprises Laos, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei. India along with China and other key countries are the dialogue partners of the grouping.

They agreed to foster closer cooperation in reforming and democratising the UN and institutions under it by making them "more reflective of the contemporary realities."

The four-page partnership accord and nine-page action plan envisages their co-operation in multilateral fora particularly the WTO and in addressing common challenges of economic, food, human and energy security.

Respect for independence

Affirming their respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, the two sides vowed to promote a long term co-operative partnership based on equality, shared ownership and mutual respect.

They agreed to collaborate in areas of general and complete disarmament and in the non-proliferation of WMDs under strict and effective international control.

Keeping in view geographical contiguity of Southeast Asia and India, it was decided to give high priority to development of regional infrastructure including road, rail, sea and air transportation links to facilitate greater movement of goods and people.

Tourism development

The two sides agreed to facilitate travel and tourism by developing links of tourist centres, the accord said.

They pledged to promote co-operation in science and technology, information technology and biotechnology.

The leaders voiced their commitment to working through both innovative trade and economic arrangements and full implementation of the ASEAN-India free trade area by 2011 in respect of five countries and 2016 for the reaminig ones.

Human resource

There was unanimous support for promoting co-operation in human resource development and people-to-people exchanges involving parliamentarians, youths, artists, sportspersons and representatives from business, industry, media, academic and think-tanks.

Anti-terrorism

Convinced that ASEAN-India cooperation was essential for promoting peace, stability, development and prosperity in Asia and the world, the two sides agreed to develop anti-terrorism co-operation and assistance packages, covering immigration controls, customs co-operation, land, air and sea safety.

Aspiring to play a more active role in meeting political, economic, social and other challenges facing the region in the coming decades, they decided to co-operate in a coordinated manner to accelerate sustainable growth and development of their economies towards shared prosperity, poverty alleviation and reduction of social disparities.

Trade

It was agreed to establish ASEAN-India Regional Trade and Investment Area covering trade in goods, services and investment as envisaged in the framework agreement for comprehensive economic co-operation.

They decided to enhance trade facilitation by streamlining customs procedures, formalities and practices in accordance with international conventions and best practices.

The action plan underscores the need for expediting completion of India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway and its extention to Laos and Cambodia.

It was decided to establish an ASEAN-India biotechnology network to encourage co-operation in the field of plant biotechnology for crop improvement.

India has offered to increase the number of fellowships for ASEAN students to pursue higher education in this country.

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