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A courageous, wise leader: Lee

By P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE, DEC. 24. Singapore today led the member-countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in paying tributes to the former Indian Prime Minister, P. V. Narasimha Rao, who passed away in New Delhi on Thursday.

The Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, in a message to his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, described Rao as ``a courageous and wise statesman who put India on the path of reform.'' His ``significant contributions to the progress of India and the region will endure,'' Mr. Lee said.

The City-State's Senior Minister and former Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong, said: ``I respect Prime Minister Rao as an international statesman, a quiet but visionary leader of India and a friend of Singapore.'' Noting that ``India is booming today because of the foundation he laid,'' Mr. Goh said he and Rao had ``worked together to strengthen relations between our two countries and between our two regions.''

Diplomatic observers in the region recalled that it was during Rao's visit to China in September 1993 as Prime Minister that agreements were signed on the maintenance of peace and tranquillity along the China-India Line of Actual Control. The Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the military field along the Line of Actual Control in the China-India border areas followed in November 1996.

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