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Economic pact will be a landmark, says Lee

Monday 27 June 2005, by SURYANARAYANA*P.S.

SINGAPORE: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has emphasised that the prospective economic pact with India "is a good agreement, not just on the substance of it."

In an exclusive interview to The Hindu at his state-of-the-art office here, Mr. Lee, who will sign the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on June 29, said the accord signified "a landmark" in India’s economic diplomacy, being its first such exercise involving any country.

Mr. Lee will pay a three-day visit to India from June 28.

Expressing satisfaction that the CECA was not a partisan issue in the Indian political domain, he said "we are comfortable with India." On the current bilateral economic exchanges, especially trade, he said: "The base is low but the potential is great." About the mindset in India towards foreign investment, he noted that "in every country, you have this sensitivity" in some form.

Looking relaxed and happy, Mr. Lee sounded an upbeat note on the "possibility" of tapping India’s "soft-power" in science and technology for Singapore’s benefit, even in the defence sector. On anti-terror cooperation, he commended the existing Joint Working Group on Intelligence for "working effectively and quietly."

Outlining his world-view, he said Singapore’s "security framework agreement" with the United States "is almost completed."

See online : The Hindu

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