Their Majesties arrive in India
Hakim Hayat in New Delhi, India

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha safely arrived in New Delhi, India, yesterday afternoon.

His Majesty will join other Asean leaders for the two-day Asean-India Commemorative Summit hosted by India.

Upon arrival at the Palam Air Force Station, Their Majesties were greeted by Ratanjit Pratap Narayan Singh, Minister of State of Home Affairs of India; Lalduhthlana Ralte, High Commissioner of India to Brunei Darussalam; and senior officials of the Government of India.

Their Majesties were given a grand welcome as they consented to walk past a Static Guard before they boarded the motorcade to the ITC Maurya Hotel where they will reside throughout the summit.

Their Majesties were greeted on arrival at the ITC Maurya Hotel by the General Manager of the hotel, Anil Chadha, and were presented with silk scarves as a welcome gift.

Accompanying Their Majesties are His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Malik, His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Wakeel, Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah, Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Muta-Wakkilah Hayatul Bolkiah, Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah; and Her Royal Highness Princess Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah as well as other members of the royal family.

Also present at the airport was Dato Paduka Haji Sidek bin Ali, the High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam to India.

At the Plenary Session of the Asean-India Commemorative Summit today, leaders from Asean and India are expected to set out their vision for the future direction of Asean-India relations in order to enhance the level of engagement and integration between the Asean countries and India.

The leaders will also review achievements and cooperation of 20 years of Asean-India dialogue relations. The leaders will also discuss ways in further strengthening and deepening the strategic partnership.

The Asean Heads of State and Government, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are expected to adopt the Vision Statement of the Asean-India Commemorative Summit.

Cambodia, as the Asean Chair, will be Co-Chairing the Commemorative Summit with India. Brunei is now the Country Coordinator for Asean's Dialogue Partnership with India.

Asean and India have had an intensive year of engagement to mark the 20th anniversary of the relationship. Ministerial level meetings have been held on Tourism, Environment, Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Trade & Economic matters. There has been engagement between experts at multiple workshops relating to climate change, mitigation and adaptation technologies in agriculture and potential cooperation in renewable energy.

An Agri-Expo has been held for the first time with Asean countries. India has continued and intensified its people-to-people programmes for Asean and is currently hosting 220 Asean students, 27 Asean farmers, 30 Asean diplomats and 13 senior editors under the institutionalised mechanisms for such capacity building cooperation.

An Indian Navy Sail Training Ship INS Sudarshini was on a six-month long Asean expedition and the 2nd Asean-India Car Rally has just concluded in Guwahati after traversing almost 8,000km from Yogjakarta in Indonesia through eight Asean countries to India. All Asean countries have participated in these events.

Two-way trade between Asean and India was at $80 billion in 2011 and they are targeting $100 billion by 2015. While both sides have signed a free trade agreement (FTA) on goods that came into effect in August 2010, India has been pressing hard for the services and investment agreement as it sees more gains in these two sectors.

At the Commemorative Summit, India and members of Asean are all set to announce the closure of negotiations on a long-pending agreement on services and investment in New Delhi, seeking to boost trade and investment links.

Earlier, before departing from Istana Nurul Iman to His Majesty the Sultan's Hangar, a doa selamat was recited by Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned, the State Mufti.

Present at the hangar in Rimba to bid farewell to Their Majesties were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office; Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah; His Royal Highness Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Umi Kalthum Al-Islam; Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Amal Jefriah; His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Muntaqim and Her Royal Highness Princess Muneerah Madhul Bolkiah as well as other members of the royal family.

Also present at the hanger were Pengiran-Pengiran Cheteria; Cabinet Ministers; Members of Councils; Deputy Ministers; the Commander of Royal Brunei Armed Forces; the Commissioner of RBPF; and their respective spouses. - Borneo Bulletin (20 December 2012)