Shillong, June 16 (UNI) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said geography could be a great asset in realising economic benefits by linking the remote Northeastern states with the vibrant South East Asian countries.
''Developing ties with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries has been a major objective of our Look East Policy,'' Mr Mukherjee said while launching a series of interactive conferences and meeting to dovetail India's 'Look East' policy.
Mr Mukherjee said the 'Look East' policy, pronounced in the nineties by late Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao, was not merely an external economic policy, but a strategic shift in the country's vision of the world and India's place in evolving global economy.
''Our multiple relationships with ASEAN countries have come since the 'Look East policy' and trade with ASEAN countries has risen from 2.4 billion dollars in 1990 to 23 billion dollars in 2005,'' the External Affairs Minister said.
He asserted that the country firmly believed the ASEAN region's abundance of natural resources, significant levels of technological skills and robust cooperation could provide the ideal platform of synergies.
On the geo-potential of the Northeastern region as gateway to East and South East Asia, Mr Mukherjee said he was convinced that by gradually integrating the region through cross-border, the problem of inaccessibility to the region would be solved. It would also bridge the gap between the Indian economy and the fastest growing and dynamic region of the world, he added.
''The region's inaccessibility in connectivity and market, following the partition in 1947, are well known. Today, however, the new dynamic of regional co-operation, will provide the basis for considerable synergies,'' Mr Mukherjee said.