With India continuing to build ties with ASEAN under New Delhi’s Act East Policy, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday called for greater connectivity between the northeastern states of India and southeast Asia. At an interactive session with the Chief Ministers of the northeastern states on the Act East Policy, she said that state governments of the northeastern region were active stakeholders in the Policy.
According to a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, she said that “greater connectivity and economic integration of India’s northeast with its eastern neighbours was considered a key focus area for growth and development of the region”. “India’s Act East Policy had received a major boost following the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)-India Commemorative Summit, which was held in New Delhi on January 25, 2018,” the statement said.
“Continued development of relevant infrastructure both within the state and at international borders was also discussed with a view to enhancing trade, investment, tourism and people-to-people ties,” the statement said.
The meeting was attended by Chief Ministers Sarbananda Sonowal (Assam), Chief Minister N. Biren Singh (Manipur), Chief Minister Conrad Sangma (Meghalaya), Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio (Nagaland), Chief Minister Biplab Deb (Tripura) and Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein.
Addressing the meeting, Sonowal, whose state is the only one with a separate Act East Policy Department, said that connectivity is the most crucial factor in furthering India’s relations with southeast Asia. “Therefore, it is imperative to focus on improved airways, roadways, waterways, railways and information ways in this region,” he said.
“In order to establish air links with Asean and BBIN (Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal) countries, there is a need to launch direct flights between the capitals of Asean and BBIN countries and Guwahati.”
Tripura CM Biplab Deb raised issues pertaining to operationalisation of Chittagong port, BBIN corridor, setting up of border haats among others.