Connectivity with Asean key to boosting economy: Mukherjee

June 15th, 2008 - 8:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, June 15 (IANS) India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukerjee Sunday stressed the need for improving connectivity with the South Asian neighbours and strengthening bilateral relations with them to boost business and attract investments. “Economic development in the northeast will depend on how quickly we can build up connectivity with the Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations) and other neighbouring countries,” Mukherjee said while inaugurating a branch secretariat of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in Assam’s main city of Guwahati.

“There are lots of opportunities now and we shall have to build up connectivity as fast as possible. Private and government investments are not enough, we need foreign investments,” the minister said.

He said border disputes with neighbouring countries should not be considered as hurdles in expanding trade ties.

“We must have good relations with Bangladesh and China. Whatever problems are there, we must resolve them through discussions and dialogues on mutually acceptable terms,” he said.

The branch secretariat in Guwahati is the fourth such office of the Ministry of External Affairs in the country - the other three being in Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai.

“The opening of this office would go a long way in fulfilling the aspirations of the people of the northeast in having better liaison and interaction with the MEA on issues concerning India’s look east policy, external relations, foreign trade, foreign direct investments and cultural exchanges,” the minister said.

He said the office would also facilitate people in the region to get their passports quickly. “We have made procedures easy for getting passports,” he said.

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