NEW DELHI: Vice President Hamid Ansari will embark on a four-day visit to Cambodia and Laos from tomorrow during which he will hold extensive talks with the leadership of the two growing Asian economies to strengthen ties and boost economic engagement as part of India's Act East policy.
He will arrive in Cambodian capital Phnom Penh tomorrow. Stepping up trade, investment, tourism and cultural linkages will be high on his agenda during the talks there. The visit to Laos will be the first ever by an Indian Vice President.
"Visits to Cambodia and Laos, two important growing economies, will definitely reaffirm our pursuit of an enduring partnership with countries of ASEAN region which is part of our Act East policy," Secretary East Anil Wadhwa told reporters while briefing on Ansari's visit.
The Vice President's visit to Cambodia at the invitation of Prime Minister Hun Sen will focus particularly on shoring up bilateral trade and investment which remains "much below potential".
"Cambodia is a growing economy that has maintained a growth rate of about 7 per cent over the last several years. It is seeking greater socio-economic development. They are also a very young nation much like India and they are looking at opportunities for human resource development. We will assure them that they can count on India as a willing development partner," Wadhwa said.
"Our efforts in this direction have been towards undertaking infrastructure projects and capacity development programmes. Our trade and investment linkages have grown over the years, though they remain much below potential. We will also brief the interlocutors (during the visit) on the initiatives that India is taking to step up our economic engagement," he said.
Wadhwa said India is working on a new agreement to provide grant assistance for projects targeted towards social development which he hoped will be signed during the visit.
"We will reaffirm our commitment to strengthen and consolidate our relations. Also, it (the visit) will give us a chance to enhance our economic engagement," he said.
In Cambodia, the Vice President will also visit Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm temples in Siem Reap province.
"We are also involved in the conservation and preservation of these great monuments and we hope that the Vice President's visit to these sites will encourage people to people contact as well as tourism," Wadhwa said.
Asked about Cambodia's protest in June over building of an Angkor Wat replica in Bihar, Wadhwa said India has allayed Cambodian concerns in this regard by arranging for a visit by a representative of the Cambodian Embassy here to the temple and asked them to suggest changes that would satisfy them.