Impact of Act East policy seen in India-Laos relationship

Act East policy

VIENTIANE: Indian Ambassador to Lao PDR Prashant Agrawal highlighted the “very positive impact” of India’s Act East Policy on strengthening bilateral ties with Laos, underscoring their shared cultural heritage and strategic developmental collaborations which according to him predicated on three key pillars – “capacity building, training and skilling”.

India and Lao PDR share long-standing religious, cultural, and people-to-people linkages going back long into history.

“Our relations with Lao PDR are civilisational. We have very historically close ties, which are underpinned by the exchanges of Buddhism and also prevalence of Ramayana in Laos’ popular culture,” Ambassador Agrawal told ANI.

Speaking on the developmental partnerships, Ambassador Agrawal emphasised, “Our development partnership with Laos is predicated on three key pillars, capacity building, training and skilling. Our grant projects, also include the Quick Impact projects, and the Center for Entrepreneurship Development, the Centre of Excellence for software training.”

Highlighting specific outcomes, he noted, “Our lines of credit programs have resulted in specific infrastructure projects for electricity transmission, distribution, agriculture, and irrigation. So it’s a multidimensional partnership, which is getting stronger and progressing very well, also as part of our Act East Policy.”

The Act East Policy focuses on the extended neighbourhood in the Indo-Pacific region, with ASEAN as its core.

Ambassador Agrawal also discussed the cultural ties strengthened by projects such as the restoration of the Vat Phou temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

“The restoration and conservation of Vat Phou is a very special project because it represents our shared cultural heritage between India and Lao PDR,” he explained. “It is gradually coming back to its former glory and creating enormous goodwill for India and Lao DPR relations.”

Regarding Laos’ role as ASEAN chair in 2024, Ambassador Agrawal highlighted India’s collaborative efforts, stating, “India’s path-breaking progress for creating digital public infrastructure and achieving financial inclusion is widely admired across this region.” He further added, “Our collaboration to create digital infrastructure is our shared high priority on which we are working bilaterally as well as regionally with ASEAN member countries, including Laos.”

Speaking on security and stability, Ambassador Agrawal reiterated, “Lao PDR sees India as a net provider of stability and security, welcomed widely by ASEAN member countries, including Lao PDR.” (ANI)

Also Read: Jaishankar pitches for ‘ASEAN unity’, constructive role in Indo-Pacific

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