SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE HIS MAJESTY SULTAN HAJI HASSANAL BOLKIAH, THE SULTAN OF BRUNEI DARUSSALAM
New Delhi, 21st May 2008
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government of India, the people of India and on my own behalf, I warmly welcome Your Majesty and your delegation to India.
The nation of Brunei Darussalam - 'the Abode of Peace' - has made great progress under your leadership. Brunei's fame as an abode of peace and tranquility is also matched by its fame as a tolerant society.
Your visit to India is an expression of the bond of friendship between our two countries and of the mutual desire to enhance our bilateral cooperation for the benefit of our two peoples.
The historical, cultural and linguistic linkages between India and Brunei, with roots dating back to the 3rd century, are deep and lasting. Indeed, 'Sri Paduka' is a word used both in Bahasa Melayu and Sanskrit.
Our economic and commercial links began with the discovery of oil in your country in 1929. A large number of Indians took employment in Brunei Darussalam. Today, the Indian community of professionals like doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers and skilled personnel are contributing to the economy of Brunei. We are grateful to Your Majesty for the support extended to the expatriate Indian community in Brunei.
India has undergone significant socio-economic transformation in recent years. The sustained economic growth of about 8 percent in the past decade has propelled India to be one of the major economies of the world. This has opened up opportunities for increased trade and investment. India is an attractive destination for foreign investment. We welcome investment from Brunei in infrastructure, telecommunications and other sectors.
Brunei has emerged as one of the sources of supply of crude oil to India, which has also enhanced our trade relations. India is also ready for cooperation in upstream, midstream and downstream projects in the oil sector.
We are grateful for the assistance and cooperation that has been extended by Brunei in our journey to the Telemetry Tracking and Telecommand Station of ISRO in Brunei. We are also happy at the interest shown by Brunei in sharing our experience and expertise in the field of Information Technology. Your Majesty, India stands ready to extend whatever assistance it can to strengthen our cooperation in areas of mutual benefit. Both countries have scope for extensive cooperation in defence, training of personnel in different courses, the health sector, and capacity building, among others.
Food security is engaging the attention of the world. 90 percent of the rice produced in the world, is consumed in Asian countries. India and Brunei, as rice producing and consuming countries, could collaborate in the field of rice research. We could begin with the exchange of rice experts and thereafter, explore the possibilities of further collaboration, including the setting up of an India-Brunei Rice Research Institute.
We value the support extended by Brunei in making India a full dialogue partner of ASEAN and in the ongoing India-ASEAN FTA negotiations. It reflects Brunei's understanding of the "Look East" policy of India, which is aimed at integrating India's multifaceted relations with ASEAN and beyond. Similarly, the decision at the 3rd East Asian Summit at Singapore last November on the Nalanda University initiative is deeply appreciated.
India and Brunei cooperate closely on several issues in international bodies, including in the UN and the Commonwealth. We appreciate the understanding of Brunei in India's enhanced role at the United Nations, particularly its candidature for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council. We hope that Brunei would continue to support India on this issue.
The contemporary world is confronted with global challenges ranging from terrorism to climate change. Both our countries share similar views on these issues. We would continue to work together to tackle these challenges in the bilateral, regional and global context.
I wish Your Majesty and your delegation a comfortable stay in India.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I invite you to join me, in a toast:
- to the health and well-being of Your Majesty,
- to the happiness and prosperity of the friendly people of Brunei and,
- to lasting friendship between India and Brunei.