President embarks on two-nation visit

Patil is accompanied by a high-level business and official delegation, which includes Minister for Tribal Affairs Kantilal Bhuria. The visit is aimed at giving a further boost to India's "warm and cordial relations" with Laos and Cambodia.

The two nations have been supportive of India's bid for Permanent membership of the UN Security Council. The President's visit to Cambodia is of great significance given the upcoming ASEAN related meeting in 2011 and 2012 to be held here, including the ASEAN business meeting in next April, she said, noting that Cambodia is also country coordinator for India-ASEAN engagements.

Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs Vijaya Latha Reddy said some important agreements and announcements related to cultural exchange and Accounts and Audits were expected during the state visit.

Patil will be in Laos till September 13. It would be Patil's first visit to Laos and only the second by an Indian President since the two countries established diplomatic relations.

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had visited Laos in 1954 to give a boost to cultural ties between the two countries. Apart from Lao's capital Vientiane where she will meet President Choummaly Sayasone, Patil will also travel to Luang Prabang.

Patil will have discussions with President Sayasone, Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh and President of the country's National Assembly. Patil will travel to Cambodia at the invitation of Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia.

Other than the capital Phnom Penh, Patil would be travelling with the delegation to Siem Reap where the world famous temples of Angkor Vat are located. "Cambodia is an important partner of India among the ASEAN countries. Patil's visit to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap will provide an opportunity to reaffirm and strengthen multi-faceted bilateral ties including commercial and investment relations," the ministry officials said.

Patil's visit to these two countries is aimed at reaffirming India's pursuit of a closer and enduring partnership with countries of the ASEAN region as part of its Look-East policy.

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