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Best yet to come in India-Asean ties: PM

Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Nov 20, 2012 (IANS)

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday said that "the best is yet to come" in India's relations with the 10-member Asean.

In his talks with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, which is to take over as chair of the Asean for 2013, Manmohan Singh said that India is keen to further its relations with the Asean, and in this context there was discussion on the India-Asean Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Sultan Bolkiah said he shared India's aspiration for an early conclusion of the FTA, said official sources briefing newspersons after the meeting.

India and the Asean are in the final stages of concluding an FTA on services and investments. The two sides, which have around $80 billion bilateral trade, have an FTA on goods in place.

The Brunei Sultan outlined agriculture, information technology, energy, disaster management and human resources development as priority areas for Brunei, in which they wanted to develop partnership with India, said an official source.

India's oil imports from Brunei are worth around $1.2 billion. The two sides also discussed possibilities of expanding cooperation in this area, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), the official said.

The prime minister also thanked the Sultan of Brunei for confirming his participation in the Asean-India commemorative summit in New Delhi Dec 20-21, which marks 20 years of the country's ties with the bloc and the 10th anniversary of Asean-India Summit-level partnership.


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