NEW DELHI, Feb 26 � Development of connectivity, trade and commerce and tourism between the North-eastern region and the neighbouring South East Asian countries will top the priority list of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, when he visits Myanmar to take part in the Summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).
Dr Singh is scheduled to visit Nay Pi Taw on March 4 to take part in the third Summit. The Summit is expected to add momentum to regional connectivity and also provide an opportunity for promoting regional cooperation, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said while briefing newsmen.
�When you talk about SAARC and ASEAN, you have to look at the thrust area, which I think is important to the North-east. You cannot underestimate the potential of BIMSTEC in bringing the fruits of these connectivity and linkages to our States. Connectivity is an issue for the North-east and the focus of so much we are doing for the North-east.�
�Whether it is the Look East Policy or the BIMSTEC, the idea is to bring connectivity, trade tourism and linkages to all the States in the North-east,� said the Foreign Secretary.
The Prime Minister has taken a special interest in development of the North-east. The Planning Commission has laid special emphasis on this to see how it can develop it further. �Just about three weeks back I was in Guwahati, along with the Secretaries of all line ministries, to look at how we can work together to focus our attention on developing the North-east, because the entire area is opening up,� she said.
�Our intention is to ensure that our interest does not fall behind. When the connectivity happens and the roads are opened, we are able to develop the region quite faster. The entire area including Bangladesh and Bhutan needs to be watched,� Singh observed.
The North-eastern States, during the last two years, have recorded a growth rate of 10 per cent, which is much higher than the national average, she said, adding that it is really a very high-growth region.