The cultural similarities between Northeast India and Southeast Asia will serve as the fulcrum of India’s ties with the Asean nations, Arunachal Pradesh deputy chief minister Chowna Mein said on Monday.

“Cultural similarity between the people of Asean countries and Northeast India should become the fulcrum of our friendship and the bedrock of all our policies both – diplomatic and economic,” he said at an event to mark the 25th anniversary of Asean-India Dialogue Partnership in Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

The statement comes even as India is boosting its engagements with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) under New Delhi’s Act East Policy.

Stating that that India was on the path to forge a strong friendship and partnership with the Asean countries, Mein said that the development of India’s Northeast would be a game changer in terms of India’s ties with the Asean countries.

Stressing on similarities of region with most Asean countries in terms of culture, traditions, religious practice and food habits, etc, he stressed that this should be reinforced by regular bilateral cultural exchange and developing an institutional mechanism to enhance people to people contact.

Mein urged the Asean leaders to take full benefit of the agreement on trade in goods under the framework agreement on comprehensive economic cooperation between India and the Asean countries.

He also proposed to the ASEAN-India Business Council to consider organising a B2B meeting in northeast India any time, noting such a move would foster greater cooperation and understanding between northeastern states and Asean and go a long way in strengthening their friendship.

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