IMPHAL, Aug 10 - Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh said that Manipur �shares close affinity in terms of culture, customs and food habits� with the ASEAN region, according to a press release from CM�s Secretariat.
Singh was addressing the 25th anniversary celebration conference of ASEAN-India Dialogue Partnership at Vientiane in Laos PDR on Monday. The celebration was jointly organised by ASEAN India Business Council (AIBC), Laos PDR Chapter, Indian Embassy, Laos PDR and Laos National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
There has been a strong emphasis on enhancing India�s road and maritime connectivity with its eastern neighbours. Some of the key projects include the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway, which connects Moreh in Manipur with Mae Sot in western Thailand through Mandalay in Myanmar, and Kaladan multi-nodal transport project, which aims to connect Kolkata with Sittwe Port in Myanmar, Singh said.
Singh informed that India�s North East had witnessed a trade upswing from Rs 775 million ($12 million) in 2013-2014 to Rs 1.445 billion ($22 million) in 2015-16.
In terms of land connectivity, Singh said, Manipur is the gateway for India to ASEAN region.
The Manipur CM pointed out that there are huge untapped potentials to develop and expand the air connectivity eastward from Imphal in particular and the North East in general to the ASEAN region.
The CM further said that the North East offers unlimited tourism opportunities, rare flora and fauna, natural scenic beauty, performing arts, cuisine and handicrafts.
As part of the initiative to cater to the aspiration of the youth of the region, the two countries need to encourage greater participation of the youth by exploring mechanism to facilitate exchanges in areas of culture, sports, traditional arts and education, he added.
The Manipur Chief Minister was accompanied by Parliamentary Secretary (Tourism) Dr S Ranjan, Parliamentary Secretary (Home) L Susindro, Advisor to CM Rajat Sethi and Personal Secretary to CM S Rajen during his visit to the ASEAN country.