31 cars from 11 countries will proceed to Kohima, and then to Guwahati

A cavalcade of 31 cars with 116 participants from 11 countries arrived in Imphal on Saturday on their way to Nagaland and Assam. During their 8,000-km journey, they will cover 10 countries. The cars arrived at Moreh, a border town 109 km away, at 9 a.m. and were welcomed by Commerce and Industries Minister Govindas Konthoujam.

The countries participating in the rally are Burnei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and India.

Later, the cavalcade proceeded to Imphal. On its arrival here, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi, Deputy Chief Minister G. Gaikhangam, all Ministers, ranking police, army and civil officials accorded it a warm welcome. Speaking briefly at the reception, Mr. Ibobi said there had been close cultural and historical ties between Manipur and the ASEAN countries and that Manipur was the gateway of India to the ASEAN countries.

An agreement for opening the Imphal-Mandalay (Myanmar) bus service is likely to be signed early next year when the President of Myanmar visits New Delhi. Within two years other cities of Myanmar may be covered by this service.

Mr. Ibobi said the extension work for rail lines to Manipur was making progress and it was expected that by 2016 there would be rail services in the State.

Passenger buses, trucks and private cars were not allowed for some time along Highway 39 to facilitate the rally. Security measures were stepped up to ensure that there was no untoward incident. The rallyists were treated to Manipuri delicacies. They were also mesmerised by the cultural presentations organised in their honour.

The cavalcade left for Kohima, the capital of Nagaland, later in the afternoon. They will leave Kohima early on Sunday morning for Guwahati.