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India ready for open skies with ASEAN

January 14, 2007 16:23 IST

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on Sunday told the Association of South East Asian Nations that India was ready to look at an open skies policy with ASEAN members.

"Greater connectivity is also central to the idea of regional economic integration," the prime minister said in his speech at the fifth India-ASEAN summit in Cebu, Philippines.

"The initiative taken in 2003 to liberalise air services has led to a significant increase in flight connections between India and ASEAN, with concomitant benefits in trade and people-to-people contact. I recall, at our last summit, the prime minister of Singapore had proposed that we now look at an open skies policy. We have examined this proposal and I am happy to announce that we would be willing to engage ASEAN authorities in a discussion on such a policy," he added.

In his speech, the prime minister underlined India's commitment to the Look East policy, initiated by former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao's government in 1991.

"It (the Look East policy) coincided with the beginning of our economic reform process and provided an opportunity for significantly enlarging our economic engagement," the prime minister said.

"At the same time, it was also a renewal of time-tested linkages with our neighbours in South East and East Asia. Our zeal and determination to pursue this renewal and reach our goal of fashioning the Asian economic community remains unshaken," he observed.

Sumit Bhattacharya in Philippines