India, Cambodia sign two MoUs

Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari hands over a certificate to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (right) at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on Wednesday.— PHOTO: AFP  

Vice-President Hamid Ansari on Wednesday signed two Memorandums of Understanding — on tourism, and on the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Initiative — with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen following a session of delegation-level talks.

The Mekong-Ganga MoU related to five ‘quick impact projects’, one of which was a $50,000-grant to Cambodia for the upgradation of an Entrepreneurship Development Centre. The other four projects included two in healthcare, especially to do with malaria, one on agriculture and one on women’s empowerment. The tourism MoU was aimed at boosting tourist movement between the two countries.

Following the meeting with Mr Hun Sen, Mr Ansari also addressed Cambodia’s Council of Ministers, the first such address by a high-level foreign dignitary. “There is good scope for sharing experiences for mutual benefit between our two countries. Agriculture and agro processing sector, mining, oil and gas, and small and medium enterprises offer opportunities for trade and investment by Indian business houses,” he said in his speech.

Mr. Ansari also mentioned a Special Purpose Vehicle with regard to the CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) countries, a decision initially announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget. “As part of our initiatives, the government has recently set up a Special Purpose Vehicle to attract Indian investments to Cambodia and other CLMV countries. We hope to launch this new initiative soon and I am confident that in the near future, more Indian companies will explore the investment opportunities,” Mr Ansari said.

The Vice-President on Wednesday attended a ceremonial welcome by Mr. Hun Sen at the historic Peace Palace, prior to which he laid wreaths at the Independence Monument and the Royal Memorial. On Thursday, Mr Ansari will visit the famous Angkor Wat temple at Siem Reap in Cambodia and then travel to Vientiane, the capital of Laos.