Manmohan Singh leaves for VietnamBy Minu Jain, IANS
Thursday, October 28, 2010
KUALA LUMPUR - Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left here Thursday for Vietnam on the final leg of his Asian tour, after a three-day trip to Malaysia where he concluded negotiations on the path-breaking Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
Manmohan Singh, who held extensive bilateral discussions with his counterpart Najib Tun Razak, said the visit to Kuala Lumpur had laid the basis for a “multi-faceted partnership between India and Malaysia”.
The two prime ministers also launched the Little India business and cultural hub in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia is home to 2.1 million people of Indian origin who form eight percent of its population.
CECA would be signed by Jan 31, 2011, and come into force July 1.
The agreement, which promises to take bilateral trade from $10.5 billion now to $15 billion by 2015, was hailed by the Malaysian prime minister as a cornerstone of India-Malaysia relations.
Labelled a landmark pact by the Malaysian media, the agreement would unleash the tremendous potential in trade, investment and other economic linkages.
The two prime ministers also discussed military cooperation, maritime security, terrorism, higher education, and visa issues.
Considerable significance was placed on the fact that two prime ministerial visits took place in the same year. Razak visited New Delhi in January and extended an invitation to Manmohan Singh.
From Kuala Lumpur, the Indian prime minister flew to Hanoi to take part in the India-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit.
A number of bilateral interactions are expected to take place on the sidelines, with the meeting with Chinese premier Wen Jiabao likely to be the highlight.
Manmohan Singh returns home Saturday.
(Minu Jain can be contacted at [email protected])