The Andaman and Nicobar group of islands will be developed as an economic and a strategic hub, Minister of State for External Affairs General V.K. Singh (retired) said on Monday.
Speaking at the ‘India-Asean Connectivity Summit’ organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the Minister stressed on the need to focus on improving maritime connectivity with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
“There is a strong case for improving maritime connectivity… Both Asean and India are endowed with several islands,” Singh said.
India will cooperate with the 10 Asean countries — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — to establish a regional maritime transport system, he said.
“…India has taken initiative to build Andaman and Nicobar group of islands as an economic and strategic hub in the Bay of Bengal. Asean is also investing in its own islands.
“…There is scope to unlock the vast potential in cooperation, particularly in tourism, maritime security, disaster management, between us and the Asean,” he said.
Andaman and Nicobar islands are a major strategic centre for Indian armed forces and have the only Tri-service theatre command based in Port Blair.
The summit, which focuses on enhancing connectivity with Asean, comes ahead of the visit of the leaders of the Asean states here in January to mark 25 years of the India-Asean dialogue partnership.
In a historic first, the 10 leaders will collectively be the chief guests at the Republic Day celebrations here in January 2018.