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Former President of India visit to Cambodia

"I am told that the Indian community in Cambodia though small is vibrant, active and is supportive of those who need assistance. Such compassion for others is a good trait and I encourage everyone to be humane. I have been informed that the Indian Association in Cambodia celebrates important Indian festivals, and has recently launched a website which is quite informative. This is a good development and I am sure you will continue with such efforts. I take this opportunity to wish you progress and success."
Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Former President of India

The Former President of INDIA, Shrimati Pratibha Devisingh Patil's statement to the media onboard the special Aircraft on her way back from her state visit to the LAO PDR and the KINGDOM OF CAMBODIA

18-09-2010 : On Board Special Aircraft

As I mentioned in my departure statement, I visited Laos and Cambodia at the invitation of President Choummaly Sayasone of Laos and H.M. Norodom Sihamoni, the King of Cambodia. My visit to these countries was undertaken to reinforce the deep historical and cultural ties which India has with these countries dating back to more than 2000 years, and to build a dynamic economic and developmental partnership on these foundations. The last visit of an Indian President to Laos and Cambodia was that of our first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad in March 1959.

In Laos, I visited the capital city of Vientiane and the world heritage city of Luang Prabang. I had detailed and valuable discussions with President Sayasone who had paid a State Visit to India in August 2008 as well as with PM Bouasone Bouphavanh and the President of the Lao National Assembly. Government of Lao PDR repeatedly convey

ed its deep appreciation for India's continued assistance and support for its developmental efforts through loans and assistance in the field of human resource development, hydropower and irrigation schemes in particular. The Lao leadership emphasized that Indian Lines of Credit were very important for Laos and also conveyed special appreciation for the preferential tariff assistance given by India for Lao exports. I was informed that the National Assembly of Laos has already approved the India-ASEAN Agreement on Trade in Goods and only some administrative formalities remain prior to its notification. The Lao leadership also indicated that they look forward to investments from the Indian private sector.

In Vientiane, a Cultural Exchange Agreement for the years 2011-13 was signed as also an agreement for a new Government of India Credit Line of US $ 72.55 million to finance two power projects. Agreements between the newly set-up Indian Chamber in Laos (INCHAM) with each of the three leading Indian Chambers of Commerce (viz. FICCI, CII and ASSOCHAM) were also signed. These measures are expected to give impetus to further economic cooperation between India and Laos.

President Sayasone and I participated in a virtual inauguration of the 115 KV Paksong-Jiangxi-Bangyo transmission line project in Champassak province, where Government of India had provided a Line of Credit for US$ 18 million.

In Cambodia, I held talks with King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Presidents of the Senate and the National Assembly. The Cambodian leaders warmly recalled India's invaluable support for Cambodia during its most difficult times. They appreciated our developmental assistance and discussed new areas of cooperation. Prime Minister Hun Sen mentioned oil and gas, mineral extraction, agriculture and tourism as future areas for bilateral cooperation. I invited His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni to visit India, which he accepted. The dates will be worked out through diplomatic channels.

An MOU for cooperation between our Comptroller and Auditor General and the National Audit Authority of Cambodia was signed. A US$15 million Credit Line Agreement between EXIM Bank and the Cambodian Government was signed for Phase II of the Stung Tassal Water Development Project. I announced a financial grant of US$ 246,000 for upgradation of the Cambodia-India Friendship School. I attended the India-Cambodia Business meeting in Phnom Penh. I also performed the ground breaking and foundation stone laying ceremony of the Asian Traditional Textiles Museum being set up under the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Programme.

On ASEAN, Cambodia has played a vital role as the host and ASEAN Chair in 2002 for the first ASEAN-India Summit. Cambodia is currently the Coordinator for India-ASEAN interaction and will again hold the ASEAN Chair in 2012 when we will host the Commemorative India-ASEAN Summit in India.

The grandeur and scale of the historical monuments I had visited has been particularly impressive in both Siem Reap and Luang Prabang. In my meetings with the Governors of these provinces, they both mentioned the old links with India. Our shared cultural heritage is very much in evidence in the architecture, the language, the religion, the art and culture and the social customs of our countries. The Baci ceremony in Laos in which threads are tied is very reminiscent of our Raksha Bandhan festival. We are proud of India's contribution to the restoration works in Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm in Cambodia and Wat Phu in Laos.

I was accompanied by Shri Kantilal Bhuria Union Minister for Tribal Affairs and by Members of Parliament - Shri Mohan Singh, Shri N. Peethambara Kurup and Shri Anandrao Adsul. They actively participated in the various events during the visit. They, like me, were deeply impressed with the commonality of culture and the ancient linkages with Laos and Cambodia, and the commitment of the leaders of the two countries to forge stronger bonds of friendship with India. I believe that greater economic engagement and people-to-people contacts, particularly among the youth and students will be the catalysts for this.

A business delegation also accompanied me. It consisted of representatives from Indian companies and the three major business associations - CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM participated. As we look at our objective of greater economic engagement with these countries, it will be our companies and business organizations who will explore possibilities, and increase trade and investment levels.

I was touched by the exceptional affection and personal warmth extended to me in both Laos and Cambodia from the leadership and the people. I am convinced that my visit to Laos and Cambodia has served to reinforce our traditional ties and will also help us to forge new links for the future.

Thank You.

Remarks by Her Excellency THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, Shrimati Pratibha Devisingh Patil at the banquet hosted by GOVERNOR of SIEM REAP PROVINCE in SIEM REAP at CAMBODIA

Siem Reap, Cambodia, 16th September 2010

I deeply appreciate the warm hospitality extended to me and my delegation. I am delighted to be in the historical city of Siem Reap which is home to so many magnificent monuments including the world heritage site - Angkor Wat. These monuments reflect the glory of the Khmers at that time and are a visible symbol of strong cultural ties that existed between India and Cambodia.

India is proud to have been involved in the conservation and restoration efforts of Angkor Wat from 1986 to 1993 and is currently working for Ta Prohm Temple. Today, I had the honour of laying the foundation stone for MGC Asian Traditional Textiles Museum, which would be an added testament of Indian cultural cooperation between India and member countries of the Mekong Ganga Cooperation in this beautiful city of Siem Reap.

I see such joint initiatives as proof of the desire of the two Governments to keep alive the historical cultural ties that exist between the two countries.

I wish to commend Your Excellency, the Governor of Siem Reap Province, and your officials, for their untiring efforts in making the city as well as the Angkor area a tourist paradise. vExcellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I invite you to join me in a toast:

- to the age old friendship between India and Cambodia; - to the progress and prosperity of the people of Cambodia; and

- to the historic city of Siem Reap and to the World Heritage site of Angkor Wat.

16 September 2010
The President takes part in Ground Breaking Cermony of Asian Traditional Textiles Museum

The President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil took part in the Ground Breaking and Foundation Stone Ceremony of the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Asian Traditional Textiles Museum in Siem Reap, Cambodia on September 16, 2010 during her State Visit there. India had announced a financial grant of US $ one million in 2002 for setting-up of the Museum, which shall house the exhibits, as also interactive facilities, fashion design and development centre using traditional ethnic designs and a children's activity and learning centre.

15 September 2010
Speech by Her Excellency THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, Shrimati Pratibha Devisingh Patil at the India-Cambodia Business Meeting in PHNOM PENH at Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 15th September 2010

I am delighted to be amongst the captains of business communities of our two countries. At the outset, I would like to thank the President of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce for organizing this event. The Indian business delegation consists of representatives from Indian companies and from the three major business associations of India namely the Confederation of Indian Industry, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry, reflecting the interest to engage with Cambodia. Today's meeting offers an opportunity for business persons from both countries to interact and explore business potentials.

India and Cambodia have deep civilizational links and a time-tested friendship. Our peoples have known each other for more than two thousand years. Our ancestors exchanged ideas and techniques, and created such architectural marvels that are now termed as the wonders of the world. Indian traders sailed to this region, playing an important role in not only establishing trading links, but also in promoting people to people contacts. Those ancient friendly ties which continued for many centuries, once again flourished in the era of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Prince Norodom Sihanouk, which saw an upswing in political interaction, not only on the bilateral platform, but also in the international arena. After the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, India was among the first countries to re-establish its diplomatic Mission in Phnom Penh in 1981. Since then, our two countries have worked together to bolster bilateral ties covering almost all sectors. Prime Minister Hun Sen's visit to India in 2007 and my interaction with the leadership of Cambodia during my visit not only reconfirms the time-tested bonds but is a desire to further strengthen our friendship. A background of such a rich interaction accompanied by a strong commitment by the leadership of the two countries to promote ties, provides numerous opportunities for businesspersons to forge trade and investment linkages.

It is worth mentioning that India and Cambodia started the process of economic liberalization in the 1990s - almost at the same time. Since then, the pace of economic growth in both countries has accelerated. Cambodia figured among an exclusive group of countries to achieve double digit growth in its GDP for a few years in a row, prior to the global economic crisis. India was one of the few countries where the impact of the global economic downturn was limited. This was largely on account of Indian economic growth being propelled by domestic consumption. India is trillion dollar economy and is ranked as the fourth largest economy in the world on the basis of purchasing power parity. India is a large, attractive and a growing market.

Ladies and Gentlemen, vIndia-Cambodia economic relations are at a modest level but there exists much greater scope for expansion. Total bilateral trade is approximately US$ 50 million with pharmaceuticals being the dominating item of India's export basket. I am certain it is possible to expand the bilateral trade basket, which requires initiatives to create awareness among the business communities of the two countries about the quality and prices of exportable goods and import requirements. In order to promote trade with Cambodia, India has extended a duty free tariff preference facility since last year. I encourage the Cambodian business community to avail of this facility in full at an accelerated pace.

Indian companies have invested overseas and are looking for opportunities to do more business. Frequent business interactions will help in identifying the many investment opportunities in mining, oil and gas, hydropower, infrastructure, tourism, among others. Moreover, in the economies of both India and Cambodia, agriculture continues to play an important role. I am told that the Royal Government of Cambodia is exploring ways to improve agriculture productivity, as well as to transform Cambodia into a rice basket and a key rice exporting country in the world. We welcome these initiatives of the Cambodian Government and I can assure that India would cooperate and share its experience with Cambodia in achieving this objective. India would be happy to extend training support and also depute Indian experts to Cambodia under bilateral co-operation arrangements. I am informed that trade and investment opportunities in the agriculture sector have also generated a lot of interest among reputed Indian business companies. I am hopeful that the current visits by some of them would fructify into actual business transactions.

India has a strong presence of small and medium enterprises, which have been in operation for many centuries. I believe Cambodia is keen to expand its manufacturing base to add value to its local agro-produce and also for other products to meet local demand. These sectors, alongwith IT and IT enabled services, could be areas which are worth exploring. I am glad that an Indian bank - Bank of India - is now operating in Cambodia. This should help facilitate business between the two countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen, vCambodia's central location in the ASEAN region is useful as India seeks to expand its economic engagement with the region. We are also helped by the fact that for Indians, South East Asia is an important travel destination. In this context, I would like to mention that India-Cambodia tourism trade has tremendous potential for expansion. I am also told that a large number of Cambodian tourists travel to India for pilgrimage purposes. Such visits boost our tourism business and people to people contacts. One of the best catalysts to promote tourist traffic between the two countries would be the establishment of a direct air link between India and Cambodia. This would open possibilities of attractive tour packages, and also significantly reduce travel time.

Cambodia is a country with which we have historical ties and there exists an abundance of goodwill for India at all strata of society. Therefore, I urge my own compatriots to share their experiences learnt over the years and play a positive role in the development of Cambodia. There exists tremendous scope for developing trade and investment relations between India and Cambodia, which should be realized by businesspersons of the two countries.

I wish you good luck and success in this endeavour.

Thank You.

15 September 2010
Remarks by Her Excellency THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, Shrimati Pratibha Devisingh Patil for Meeting with Cambodia-India Friendship School in PHNOM PENH at CAMBODIA

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 15th September 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen,

and Dear Students,

I am delighted to be with the students and teachers of the Cambodia-India Friendship School, which is a symbol of friendship between our two countries.

As the name of India is included in the name of your school, I am sure that you are aware of the ancient civilization of India, the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharat, as well as the life of Buddha. Since India became independent, it has focused on development and building its human resource capacity. Education has been given the utmost priority. Much credit for the progress achieved by India goes to the education system, that was established by the leaders of India, soon after its independence.

India has age old linkages and time-tested ties with Cambodia. We value our friendship with Cambodia and wish its people prosperity and progress. We are happy to have undertaken capacity building initiatives in Cambodia. So far, our involvement to large extent has been on higher education and professional training courses. Your school is special for us, as it represents the only area of India's cooperation in Cambodia, involving young students. Schools are where children learn about the universe, about the world, about their country and its culture. It is where the door of knowledge begins to open for them. In this, teachers have to play a very important role, by guiding children to become responsible citizens of tomorrow. I believe that better facilities and availability of basic infrastructure in the school plays an important role in encouraging students to focus on their studies. Facilities like libraries are beneficial for those students who wish to expand their vision and knowledge.

I am told that few months back, officials of the Indian Embassy visited the school and interacted with teachers, students and commune officials. This visit enabled us to understand your requirements. I am delighted to announce an amount of US $ 246,000 for the upgradation of infrastructure and facilities at your school. With these additional facilities I hope that the Cambodia-India Friendship School will emerge as an important centre of learning in the Province of Kampong Cham.

I convey my best wishes to all of you.

14 September 2010
Speech by THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA, H.E. Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil at the Banquet hosted by the KING OF CAMBODIA, His Majesty NORODOM SIHAMONI in PENOM PENH at CAMBODIA

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 14th September 2010

Your Majesty,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is, indeed, a great pleasure to visit the Kingdom of Cambodia. We are overwhelmed with the warmth and affection received since our arrival in your beautiful country. I and the members of my delegation greatly appreciate the gracious hospitality extended to us.

Historically, India-Cambodia relations are a product of strong civilizational links spanning two millennia. The many magnificent historical monuments spread all over Cambodia are symbols of our shared cultural heritage. Looking back, one is also reminded of the close association between Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Prince Norodom Sihanouk, which helped in developing extremely friendly ties between our two newly independent countries. Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru visited Cambodia in 1954. President Dr. Rajendra Prasad paid a State visit to Cambodia in March 1959. We in India fondly remember the visit of His Royal Highness, Prince Norodom Sihanouk undertaken in March 1955 and his subsequent visits to India. There has always been a strong desire on part of both our countries to strengthen bonds of friendship. India never wavered in its commitment to support Cambodia even at the most difficult phases of its history, immediately after the fall of Khmer Rouge regime.

Your Majesty,
I am extremely happy that Cambodia has been progressing well and it achieved double digit economic growth for a number of years prior to the global economic crisis. While commending the ongoing efforts of Cambodia to achieve a better life for its citizens, I can assure the Royal Government of Cambodia of India's continued support in fulfilling this objective.

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. Today, we have signed an additional line of credit of US $ 15 million for the Stung Tassal Water Development Project in Cambodia.

Your Majesty,
As both our countries have large agrarian sectors, there is tremendous scope for co-operation in agriculture. 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.

India and Cambodia also have predominantly young populations. There should be greater exchanges between the youth of our two countries, so that our friendship and deep cultural links continue to resonate in the future. To promote cultural ties, recent significant initiatives have been the setting up of a Chair of Sanskrit and Buddhist Studies at Preah Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University and of Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Asian Traditional Textiles Museum. The team of the Archaeological Survey of India is currently working on restoration and preservation of Ta Prohm temple at Siem Reap. We are proud that India was involved in the restoration and preservation of the World Heritage monument Angkor Wat for a few years beginning 1986.

Defence and security-related issues are other areas of active cooperation between India and Cambodia. 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.

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.

I am confident that my visit and similar high level exchanges in the future will contribute to broaden, as well as deepen our bilateral ties and generate goodwill between our peoples.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I now request you to join me in a toast:-
- to the good health and well-being of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, the King of Cambodia;
- to the continued progress and prosperity of the People of Cambodia; and
- to the lasting friendship and cooperation between India and Cambodia.

14 September 2010
INDIA and CAMBODIA sign an Agreement and AN MOU

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 14th September 2010

The President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil and the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, H.E. Mr. Hun Sen were present on September 14, 2010 when India and Cambodia signed an Agreement for an additional line of credit of U.S. $ 15 million from India for the Stung Tassal Water Development Project in Cambodia as also an MoU between the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India and the National Audiot Office of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

13 September 2010
Speech by her Excellency THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, Shrimati Pratibha Devisingh Patil at reception for the INDIAN COMMUNITY at CAMBODIA

Cambodia, 13th September 2010

I am delighted to be in this beautiful country, with which India has had historical connections, going back to almost 2000 years. I arrived in Phnom Penh only a few hours ago and interacting with the Indian community is my first engagement in the Kingdom of Cambodia. I convey to all of you, my personal greetings and also greetings from the people of India. You play an important role in promoting relations between India and Cambodia.

It is interesting that many legends are prevalent in this country tracing their ancient linkages with India. Most of the historical and cultural monuments spread all over Cambodia speak of the close Indian association, which was made possible as a result of continuous interaction between navigators, merchants and intellectuals of the two countries, over a period of two thousand years. One has heard so much about the grandeur of the world famous Angkor Wat and many astonishing architectural marvels such as Ta Prohm, Bayon and Banteay Srey. I and my delegation would be visiting Siem Reap where all these magnificent cultural monuments, which are glorious testimony to our common cultural heritage, are located. I am informed that there are many commonalities in the day-to-day life of the people of Cambodia with Indians, such as language, customs and rituals. This must be a product of our ancestors' willingness to learn from each other and is an indication of the everlasting bonds of friendship.

I am happy to say that the Governments of the two countries strived to regain old historical bonds. In the 1950s, India was associated with the International Control Commission on Indo-China and our role as Co-Chairman was well appreciated. There were numerous high level exchanges between our two countries. We are all aware of the close friendly ties that existed between Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and His Majesty Norodom Sihanouk, which paved the way for not only excellent bilateral ties, but also offered opportunities to the two leaders to exchange views on the role of newly liberated countries in the development of a peaceful world.

Everyone is aware of India's unwavering support to Cambodia not only in good times but also during the difficult period of its history. After the collapse of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, India was among the first countries to recognize President Heng Samrin's government and re-open its diplomatic mission in 1981. Since then, the Governments of India and Cambodia have worked together to expand and deepen our bilateral ties, through high level bilateral exchanges, as well as through interactions at regional and international fora.

While human resource development and capacity building have been the primary focus of our bilateral relations, India is happy to cooperate with Cambodia in infrastructural projects, as well as in projects related to conservation and preservation of historical monuments. Over the years our two countries have signed numerous agreements to enhance bilateral cooperation, and have also established mechanisms to exchange views and to review the status of ongoing projects.

We appreciate the role played by the Royal Government of Cambodia in India's engagement with this region. It is worth mentioning that India attained Summit level partnership with ASEAN under Cambodia's Chairmanship of the ASEAN in 2002, and a forthcoming Commemorative Summit in India to mark India's 20-year association with ASEAN too will be organized, during Cambodia's Chairmanship in 2012. India is satisfied with its friendly and cooperative ties with Cambodia and would continue to work for strengthening of these ties.

Overseas Indians comprising People of Indian Origin and Non Resident Indians today are amongst the best educated and successful communities in the world. India has the second largest Diaspora, estimated at over 25 million, present in every major region of the world. We are proud of you, and aware of the important role the diaspora plays as a 'bridge' to access knowledge, expertise, resources and markets for the development of the country of their origin. The Pravasi Bhartiya Divas is celebrated since 2003, every year on 9th January to mark the contribution of the Overseas Indian community in the development of India. Individuals of exceptional merit are honoured with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award. January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion, since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi - the Father of our Nation, returned to India from South Africa to lead India's freedom struggle. His philosophy and his firm adherence to the principles of non-violence and truth are universally admired and emulated across the world. There is a bust of Gandhiji in Phnom Penh and I shall be visiting the site to pay homage to him.

You must carry forward the legacy of the values of our civilisation, upheld so magnificently by Gandhiji. The onus is now on all of you to ensure that a correct image of India is portrayed among your colleagues, neighbours and others with whom you interact. You must also carry forward the efforts of our ancestors in establishing extremely friendly ties thousands of years ago with Cambodia. Always remember that your deeds in this country not only reflect your individual personality but in some way make Cambodians aware of the capabilities of India and also the Indian way of life.

I am told that the Indian community in Cambodia though small is vibrant, active and is supportive of those who need assistance. Such compassion for others is a good trait and I encourage everyone to be humane. I have been informed that the Indian Association in Cambodia celebrates important Indian festivals, and has recently launched a website which is quite informative. This is a good development and I am sure you will continue with such efforts. I take this opportunity to wish you progress and success.



President of INDIA Visit to CAMBODIA

Historical Visits from India to Cambodia

In-Sewa Projects Smt Pratibha Devisingh Patil is the Second Indian President to pay a state visit to Cambodia on 13-18 September 2010.
In-Sewa Projects The First visit of an Indian President to Cambodia was that of First President Dr. Rajendra Prasad in March 1959
In-Sewa Projects Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the First Indian Prime Minister visited Cambodia in 1954
In-Sewa Projects
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Former President of India,
Smt Pratibha Devisingh Patil's State visit to Cambodia
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" The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. "