SPEECH BY HER EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA, H.E. SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET HOSTED BY THE KING OF CAMBODIA, HIS MAJESTY NORODOM SIHAMONI
Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 14th September 2010
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is, indeed, a great pleasure to visit the Kingdom of Cambodia. We are overwhelmed with the warmth and affection received since our arrival in your beautiful country. I and the members of my delegation greatly appreciate the gracious hospitality extended to us.
Historically, India-Cambodia relations are a product of strong civilizational links spanning two millennia. The many magnificent historical monuments spread all over Cambodia are symbols of our shared cultural heritage. Looking back, one is also reminded of the close association between Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Prince Norodom Sihanouk, which helped in developing extremely friendly ties between our two newly independent countries. Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru visited Cambodia in 1954. President Dr. Rajendra Prasad paid a State visit to Cambodia in March 1959. We in India fondly remember the visit of His Royal Highness, Prince Norodom Sihanouk undertaken in March 1955 and his subsequent visits to India. There has always been a strong desire on part of both our countries to strengthen bonds of friendship. India never wavered in its commitment to support Cambodia even at the most difficult phases of its history, immediately after the fall of Khmer Rouge regime.
I am extremely happy that Cambodia has been progressing well and it achieved double digit economic growth for a number of years prior to the global economic crisis. While commending the ongoing efforts of Cambodia to achieve a better life for its citizens, I can assure the Royal Government of Cambodia of India's continued support in fulfilling this objective.
Human resource development and capacity building have been the primary focus of India-Cambodia bilateral cooperation for the last many years. India is cooperating with Cambodia in infrastructural projects, considered priority projects for the development of Cambodia, under concessional lines of credit. Today, we have signed an additional line of credit of US $ 15 million for the Stung Tassal Water Development Project in Cambodia.
As both our countries have large agrarian sectors, there is tremendous scope for co-operation in agriculture. Initiatives have also been undertaken to enhance economic engagement between our two countries. We need to encourage private sectors to pro-actively explore trade and investment opportunities.
India and Cambodia also have predominantly young populations. There should be greater exchanges between the youth of our two countries, so that our friendship and deep cultural links continue to resonate in the future. To promote cultural ties, recent significant initiatives have been the setting up of a Chair of Sanskrit and Buddhist Studies at Preah Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University and of Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Asian Traditional Textiles Museum. The team of the Archaeological Survey of India is currently working on restoration and preservation of Ta Prohm temple at Siem Reap. We are proud that India was involved in the restoration and preservation of the World Heritage monument Angkor Wat for a few years beginning 1986.
Defence and security-related issues are other areas of active cooperation between India and Cambodia. India is happy to play a role in training the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces officials. It is heartening that in less than two decades, Cambodia has transformed itself from a country which hosted blue berets, to a troop-contributing nation for UN peacekeeping operations in Africa.
We value the support extended by Cambodia for India's enhanced engagement with the ASEAN and for India's inclusion in the East Asia Summit.
I am confident that my visit and similar high level exchanges in the future will contribute to broaden, as well as deepen our bilateral ties and generate goodwill between our peoples.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I now request you to join me in a toast:-
- to the good health and well-being of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, the King of Cambodia;
- to the continued progress and prosperity of the People of Cambodia; and
- to the lasting friendship and cooperation between India and Cambodia.