GUWAHATI, Assam state, India, July 17 (NNN-Bernama) -- The Assam state Government has made a formal request to all 10 ASEAN member states to set up their respective consulate-general offices in Guwahati, Assam, to strengthen cooperation in trade, tourism, education and cultural interaction.

Assam state Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said Guwahati was an important location for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Act East' policy which calls for greater connectivity between the northeastern states of India with ASEAN.

"Guwahati, which is located in the northeast of India, is an important location for the 'Act East' policy and we want to make Guwahati the gateway of ASEAN," he said at a dialogue with 20 media practitioners from the ASEAN countries, who are here for the ASEAN-India Media Exchange Programme 2018, at his office here on Monday, July 16.

He said the neighbouring countries of Bhutan and Bangladesh had opened their respective consulates in Guwahati, which is the largest city of Assam state.

Asked on the setting up the consulate-general of Malaysia, an ASEAN member country, in Guwahati, Sonowal said the Ministry of External Affairs of India should take the lead in initiating talks with the Malaysian government.

Sonowal said the setting up of the consulates-general of all ASEAN countries in Guwahati was beneficial to both parties where 'our historical and cultural linkages make us natural friends and partners', thus helping to boost trade relations.

He also said that the state Government of Assam was seeking to improve its connectivity, especially in establishing air routes, with the ASEAN nations.

Earlier, the media delegation also attended a dialogue with the Additional Chief Secretary of the State Government of Assam, Ravi Capoor, where he stressed that India can tap into the huge potential of the food processing industry of the ASEAN countries.

"Malaysia holds significance for the Indian economy where India has become an export destination country for Malaysian palm oil," he said, adding that he wanted to establish Assam as a hub in northeast India.

The ASEAN-India media exchange programme, from July 14 to 20, held in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the ASEAN-India dialogue relations, aims to boost people-to-people interaction with the ASEAN bloc besides sharing insights on close economic collaboration between ASEAN and India.

The delegation, which also includes media practitioners from the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) and Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM), will end its visit with the Delhi Dialogue on politico-security and economic issues between ASEAN and India on July 19 and 20.--NNN-BERNAMA

Source: NAM News Network