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Patil heads to Laos, Cambodia


New Delhi : Ahead of the India-ASEAN summit, President Pratibha Patil is set to give a boost to India’s Look East policy as she heads Thursday on a ten-day visit to Laos and Cambodia, two important southeast Asian countries.

Patil starts her two-nation tour with a five-day visit to Laos Thursday. This will be the first visit by Patil to Laos and only the second to the southeast Asian country by an Indian president, the external affairs ministry said here ahead of Patil’s visit.

In Vientiane, the capital of Laos, Patil will hold talks with President Choummaly Sayasone and Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh.

Patil will leave for Cambodia Sep 13. She will meet Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni and go to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, home to famous temples of Angkor Wat.

The president’s visits to Laos and Cambodia reaffirm India’s pursuit of a closer and enduring partnership with the countries of ASEAN region as part of the Look East policy, the ministry said.

Cambodia is also currently the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) coordinator on India-ASEAN relations.

Patil’s visit comes before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s trip to Hanoi to participate in India’s summit with the 10-nation ASEAN and the 16-nation East Asia Summit, expected to be held in October-end.