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 8 Jan 2009

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India becomes 7th dialogue partner to send envoy to Asean

India has appointed one of its top diplomats, N. Ravi, as its ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), of which it is a dialogue partner, Asean secretariat said in a press release.

The Secretary-General of the 10-member regional grouping, Surin Pitsuwan, welcomed the decision and said he hoped that it will boost relations between India and the Asean.

According to Surin, India is the seventh Asean Dialogue Partner to have appointed its ambassador to the regional grouping. The other six are the US, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

"Asean has enjoyed a close partnership with India since 1995 when it progressed from a sectoral dialogue partner to become a full dialogue partner," Surin said in a statement sent to Indonesian local daily The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

"I believe ... Ravi's appointment will further enhance Asean - India strategic partnership that has since spanned political, security, economic and social dimensions."

Ravi will not be based in Jakarta.

“He will be based in New Delhi and he will come to Jakarta from time to time to attend Asean meetings," the Indian Embassy's political counselor Muktesh Pardeshi told the Post on Wednesday.

Ravi is currently working as the Secretary (East) at India's Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.

Ravi, who joined the foreign ministry in 1973, is not new to the Asean region. He worked as Indian ambassador to Vietnam from 2004 to 2006 and is currently in charge of Southeast Asian affairs in New Delhi. He has also served in Belgrade, Tokyo, Thimpu, Munich and Moscow in various capacities for Indian diplomatic missions.

In late August 2008, both India and Asean concluded negotiations on a Trade in Goods Agreement with an aim to establish a free trade area encompassing 1.7 billion people with a combined GDP of US$2.3 trillion.

The Asean Secretariat said that negotiations on a Trade in Services and Investment Agreements between the two began recently.

India's trade with Asean countries is around $40 billion with a joint goal of increasing this to $50 billion by next year.




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