Union External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj held an interactive session with all the Chief Ministers of eight north-eastern states in the national capital on Friday.
The meeting deliberated on the region’s intra-regional and sub-regional surface and air linkages, focusing on seamless connectivity with its contiguous neighbourhood.
Continued development of relevant infrastructure, both within the state and at international borders was also discussed in the ‘Act East Policy’ meet with a view to enhancing trade, investment, tourism and people-to-people ties.
Sushma Swaraj said that the state governments of the north-eastern region were active stake-holders in India’s ‘Act East Policy’.
The Chief Ministers of the north-eastern states raised several issues pertaining to the growth and development of their respective states and the region as a whole through the effective implementation of the Act East Policy, which would boost trade and cultural relations with Asia – Pacific countries.
Later in his official Twitter handle, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said: “The #ActEastPolicy is giving new momentum to the growth story of #NorthEast. With focus on connectivity and infrastructure development, the region will become the hub of trade, tourism and cultural exchange with the countries of #ASEAN.”
“Improved connectivity and infrastructure will lead to exponential growth in the tourism sector in the region in the days to come as North-east India has a lot to offer on the tourism front. The region can also expect increased flow of patients from Southeast Asian,” Sonowal had said.
He also urged the External Affairs Minister to simplify existing visa regime for facilitating free movement of people, including introduction of provisions like visa-on- arrival at all the capital cities of the north-eastern states and relaxing restricted area permit for ASEAN countries for visiting the North-east.
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio also pushed for connectivity, improved, trade and commerce between the north-eastern region and Asean countries.
“I congratulate @SushmaSwaraj for convening the meeting of all Chief Ministers of North Eastern States to discuss ‘Act East’ policy and India’s relationship with ASEAN countries. #ActEast,” tweeted Rio after the meeting.
Greater connectivity and economic integration of India’s North East with its eastern neighbours was considered a key focus area for growth and development of the region, the External Affairs Ministry said after the meeting.
Chief Ministers and representatives of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Tripura also took part in the session.
Niti Aayog vice chairman, Dr Rajiv Kumar; MoS External Affairs, Gen (Dr) VK Singh (Retd), Foreign Secretary, Secretary (East) of the External Affairs ministry as well as secretaries of DoNER, Tourism and North Eastern Council (NEC) also participated in the discussions.