SPEECH BY HER EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA, H.E. SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET HOSTED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAO PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC, REPUBLIC, H.E. MR. CHOUMMALY SAYASONE
Vientiane, Laos, 10th September 2010
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am indeed delighted to be in the beautiful country of Laos. I thank you for the warm welcome and the gracious hospitality accorded to me and my delegation. I bring with me greetings from the people of India for the friendly people of Laos.
There exists a great amount of goodwill in India for Laos. This is but natural, given that we have historical links, dating back more than two millennia. The exchanges between our peoples have resulted in many commonalities in our cultures, and some similarity of words in our languages. That Luang, sanctuary for one of the most precious relics of Lord Buddha, and the Hindu temple of Wat Phou, a UNESCO world heritage site, stand testimony to our encounters through centuries. We are proud and privileged to be your partners in the restoration of this historic temple.
The purpose of my visit to the 'jewel of the Mekong', as Laos is so poetically called, is to reaffirm the historically close bonds of friendship that exist between our two countries. It is also to continue the high level dialogue. Excellency, our bilateral ties received a strong impetus from your visit to India in August 2008, which we remember fondly as a historic milestone in our relationship. I recall that in my discussions with your Excellency we both expressed satisfaction with our enduring ties and rapidly developing co-operation.
Excellency, we admire your dynamic leadership in shaping the growth of your country, and in pursuing a Socio-Economic Development Strategy that seeks to move Laos out of the LDC status by 2020. India is willing to be your developmental partner. We are already engaged in a number of projects in Laos in the areas of hydropower, IT, human resource development, agriculture and mining. I am pleased that one of the projects the Paksong - Jiangxay Bangyo transmission line project was commissioned jointly by us today. I was happy to announce that I would also give a Line of Credit of US dollars 72.55 million for power projects to Laos. I would like to reiterate India's continued interest and commitment to supporting your development objectives through capacity-building and human resource development. As both our countries have large rural populations and there are many experiences that we can share, possibilities of agricultural co-operation should be further explored.
The economic growth of Laos and its investor friendly policies offer many viable prospects for business. India is the fourth largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity and one of the fastest growing economies of the world. Indian businesses are eager to expand and I am glad that some of them have invested in Laos. However, we need to encourage them further to avail of the mutually beneficial economic opportunities that exist in trade and investment. On trade, we hope that Laos will issue the necessary notification at an early date to bring the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement into force. We also hope that Laos will participate in the India-ASEAN Trade Fair due to be held in March 2011 in New Delhi. Your participation will create awareness about complementarities that exist between our economies.
Laos and India have worked together constructively in regional and international organizations, sharing common perceptions on many global challenges. Laos has extended valuable support to India in various multilateral bodies, including to India's aspirations to be a permanent member in an expanded UN Security Council. We remember with gratitude the very positive role played by Laos in facilitating India to join the East Asia Summit. India attaches a very high priority to its relationship with the ASEAN, and within our Look East policy, we consider Laos a crucial partner. We have also collaborated meaningfully under the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation framework.
I am confident that we will continue to work together and make our traditional friendship more strong and robust.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I invite you to join me, in a toast:-
- to the health and well-being of Your Excellency and Madame Sayasone;
- to the happiness and prosperity of the friendly people of Lao People's Democratic Republic; and
- to the lasting friendship and relationship between India and the Lao People's Democratic Republic.