BANGKOK: Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma, on Saturday, said that Bangkok and other South East Asian nations are geographically nearer to the Northeast than India’s capital Delhi, which makes the region suitable for business, trade and tourism.

He made this remark while addressing the 2nd Northeast India Festival, which is currently underway in Bangkok, Thailand.

The three day festival will conclude with a display of cultural diversity, music, food and tourism potentials in the Northeast on Sunday evening. 

He said that Northeast India and South East Asian nations can develop strong cultural and economic ties, banking on the similarities of the two region which is diverse in different ways.

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“The historical bond between India and Thailand is more than 2000 years old. It goes back to the time of King Ashoka in the 3rd Century, BC when Buddhism was introduced to Thailand from India. Buddhism is a common thread that runs through both nations. India’s bilateral relations with Thailand are rooted in history, age-old social and cultural interactions and extensive people to people contacts,” Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma said.

“Entire Northeast is geographically much closer to a large number of cities in South East Asian nations. The close proximity of the region with North East and the similarities the region shares with North East will allow the region to explore possibilities which will be to the advantage of both the region,” he said.

“I strongly believe that the festival with its focus on ‘People to people exchange’ would help in unravelling many interesting similarities and shared aspirations of the people from these regions. I am certain that this festival would provide ample opportunities for people to connect. More importantly, the cross-sharing of ideas during the festival would open up a lot of exciting opportunities,” the Meghalaya CM added.

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He said that the opportunities in the Northeast should be portrayed to the investors in South East Asian nation, who can expand their businesses and trade relations with states in the Northeast.

“We as Northeast together have to come up with policies that would mutually benefit both the regions,” he said while adding that Thailand’s vision to establish mini FTAs in five States in India, including Assam will go a long way in promoting trade ties.

“It is evident from the fact that recently the Hon’ble Union Finance Minister announced that the Government of India is implementing various rail, road and air connectivity projects worth USD 17.19 billion in the northeast. India’s Act East policy has been complemented by Thailand’s Act West policy in bringing the two countries closer,” he added. 

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