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Patil for closer cooperation with Cambodia in HR, agri, defence

world Updated: Sep 15, 2010 10:55 IST

President Pratibha Patil underlined the potential for enhancing close cooperation between India and Cambodia in the field of Human Resource Development, defence, agriculture and infrastructure, as she hailed the cordial relations between the two countries.

Speaking at a banquet held in her honour by King of Cambodia Norodom Sihamoni on Tuesday, Patil said there has been close association between the two countries since the time of Jawaharlal Nehru's Prime Ministership.

India's first prime minister visited Cambodia in 1954.

Patil is the second Indian president, after Rajendra Prasad in March 1959, to pay a state visit to Cambodia.

"Human resource development and capacity building have been the primary focus of India-Cambodia bilateral cooperation for the last many years.

"India is cooperating with Cambodia in infrastructural projects, considered priority projects for the development of Cambodia, under concessional lines of credit," Patil said.

On Tuesday, India signed a $15 million line of credit to Cambodia for the latter's ongoing Stung Tassal Water Development Project.

Patil also underlined further possibilities of collaborations on defence and security-related issues between the two countries.

"India is happy to play a role in training the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces officials.

"It is heartening that in less than two decades, Cambodia has transformed itself from a country which hosted blue berets, to a troop-contributing nation for UN peacekeeping operations in Africa," she said.

"We value the support extended by Cambodia for India's enhanced engagement with the ASEAN and for India's inclusion in the East Asia Summit," she added.

Patil maintained that since the agriculture sector in both countries is large, there was tremendous scope for cooperation.

"Initiatives have also been undertaken to enhance economic engagement between our two countries. We need to encourage private sectors to pro-actively explore trade and investment opportunities," she said.

The Indian President also emphasised on closer cultural ties between the two countries, having predominantly young populations, "so that our friendship and deep cultural links continue to resonate in the future".

A Chair of Sanskrit and Buddhist Studies at Preah Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University and of Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Asian Traditional Textiles Museum have been set-up.