India and ASEAN on Friday agreed to consider joint flagship projects to bolster cooperation in diversified areas and pledged to intensify efforts to bridge the development gap between less developed and other members of the grouping.
New Delhi's support for the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) aimed at assisting the CMLV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) members of ASEAN came in for praise at the ministerial meet here co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Indonesian counterpart Hassan Wirajuda.
The ministerial meet comes ahead of the India-ASEAN Summit on Sunday. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will arrive here on Saturday.
Indian officials said the ASEAN ministers emphasised the potential for further expansion of cooperation, given the strengths of the Indian economy and expertise in scientific and technological fields, including IT.
Mukherjee agreed that the two sides would consider joint flagship projects that would capitalize on the complementary strengths of India and ASEAN.
India-ASEAN relations came under review and the ministers also discussed its future direction, the officials said.
Mukherjee, who participated in the MGC ministerial meeting, said India would endeavour to revive the ancient cultural and commercial ties between the MGC countries.
Besides offering its assistance in the ongoing project for setting up a MGC museum for traditional textiles in Siem Reap in Cambodia, India has extended the ongoing 10 MGC scholarships for each member country.
India also offered to host 100 pilgrims from MGC countries in 2007. The next MGC ministerial meet will be held in New Delhi this year.
During his hectic schedule here, Mukherjee, who will be reaching Islamabad tomorrow, separately met his counterparts from New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines.
He said India attached importance to its 'Look East' policy as also regional economic integration and cooperation in maritime security, counter terrorism and energy security.
Mukherjee also spoke of India's proposal for developing a revived Nalanda University as an international seat of learning with public and private partnership countries of South and Southeast Asia.