India unveils pan-ASEAN car rally for 2012 summit


Bali : India Friday unveiled its plans for hosting a commemorative summit with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in New Delhi next year and proposed a car rally that starts somewhere in Southeast Asia and culminates in Kolkata, a signature initiative aimed at accelerating greater connectivity among the countries of the region.

Support TwoCircles

“We should also, in the run-up to the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit of 2012, encourage greater connectivity between our people,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said at the India-ASEAN ministerial meeting in this Indonesian resort town.

“We need connectivity more than ever before between our younger generations, the entrepreneurs, IT experts, scientists, diplomats, media and students,” Krishna said in Bali, which will host the 18-nation East Asia Summit in November.

“I propose that, unlike the car rally in 2004, this time the car rally begin from ASEAN countries into India and culminate at Kolkata,” Krishna said while underlining the need for deepening geographical connectivity among countries of the region.

Seeking to give a boost to India’s Look East policy, Krishna also called for expediting negotiations for the services and investment agreement between India and ASEAN.

“They agreed that early conclusion of the ongoing negotiations on the India-ASEAN Services and Investment Agreement is in mutual interest,” the external affairs ministry said in a statement issued in New Delhi.

Krishna also unveiled plans for a year-long celebration of cultural kinship between the two regions by holding an India-ASEAN Festival in 2012.

Economic ties between India and ASEAN are expanding rapidly with the two sides confident of meeting the target of $70 billion trade and investment by 2012.