President Pratibha Patil on Saturday said that the engagement between India, Camodia and Laos is set to substantially expand, and will be taken forward bilaterally and through the platform of ASEAN.

Ms. Patil was speaking on her return to India after a 10-day visit to both countries, on which she was accompanied by a 45-member business delegation with representatives from the CII, ASSOCHAM and FICCI.

In addition to agreements in the economic sphere, the highlights of the President's visit to these countries were her stops at famous historical sites. She spent two days each at Luang Prabang in the Laos PDR and Angkor Wat in Cambodia, both sites where the Indian imprint is evident in history, art and architecture, and in the Angkor Park region, in the heritage conservation efforts that India has made.

In Laos, a Cultural Exchange Agreement for 2011-13 was signed during Ms. Patil's visit, as also an agreement for a new Government of India credit line of $72.55 million to finance two power projects.

The National Assembly of Laos has already approved the India-ASEAN Agreement on Trade in Goods.

In Cambodia, the President signed two agreements, the first between the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India and the National Audit Authority of Cambodia, and the second for a $15-million credit line between EXIM Bank and the Cambodian government for Phase II of the Stung Tassal Water Development Project.

Ms. Patil met the staff and students of the Cambodia India Friendship School and announced a financial grant of $246,000 to upgrade it.

King Norodom Sihamoni accepted the President's invitation to visit India.

Cambodia is currently the country coordinator for India on ASEAN and will hold the ASEAN chair in 2012, when India will host the Commemorative India-ASEAN summit in Delhi.

Ms. Patil was accompanied by Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Kantilal Bhuria, and Members of Parliament Mohan Singh, Peethambara Kurup, and Andanrao Adsul.