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Natwar Singh meets SAARC, ASEAN envoys

May 28, 2004 21:16 IST

In his first major act as external affairs minister, K Natwar Singh on Friday shared his perceptions of India's foreign policy with Heads of Missions of SAARC and ASEAN countries and assured them that the new government will give the highest priority to building closer ties with them.

During the meeting, Singh highlighted the foreign policy aspects in the Common Minimum Programme of the United Progressive Alliance government.

Singh was particularly focused on SAARC and ASEAN countries, an External Affairs Ministry spokesperson told reporters in Delhi.

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Singh said it was the duty of SAARC member states to make it a creative and meaningful organisation. He gave a historical overview of the foreign policy and the philosophical underpinnings that act as the impulse in evolving it.

Singh underlined the age-old contacts that India has with ASEAN countries as well as the excellent bilateral relations that now prevail with each of these countries and between India and ASEAN as a whole.

Among the 17 envoys who attended the meeting were Pakistan's acting-High Commissioner Munnawar Saeed, Hemayetuddin (Bangladesh), Lyonp Dago Tsering (Bhutan), Donnilo Anwar (Indonesia), U Kyi Thein (Myanmar), Karna Dhoj Adhikary (Nepal), Mangala Moonesinghe (Sri Lanka) and Tran Trong Khanh (Vietnam).

Iran's Ambassador Siyavash Zargar Yaghoubi and Afghan Ambassador Masood Khalili were also invited for the meeting, which takes place ahead of two-day parleys from May 31 convened by Singh of Indian envoys from SAARC and ASEAN countries.

The minister has called India's ambassador to Iraq B B Tyagi and to Afghanistan Vivek Katju to the capital for consultations.

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