Brunei remains committed to strengthening ties with India
Hakim Hayat in New Delhi, India

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam affirmed Brunei's commitment to strengthening cooperation with India and said he has confidence that together with the support of Asean much more can be achieved by expanding the scope of cooperation.

His Majesty also stressed the importance of continuous enhancement in the work on strategic issues especially in the area of counter-terrorism, combating transnational crime and maritime security, to ensure and fully realise the vision of a future of peace, progress and shared prosperity.

Delivering a titah at the Plenary Session of the Asean-India Commemorative Summit 2012 at the Durbar Hall, Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi yesterday, His Majesty also said he strongly believes that the finalisation of the Asean-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will further intensify trade and investment which will certainly help to achieve the trade target of beyond US$100 billion between both blocs.

Earlier in the titah, His Majesty thanked Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his officials and the people of India for hosting the meeting and for the warm hospitality. "I am truly pleased to be back in New Delhi especially to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the dialogue relations."

Asean and India, said His Majesty, share a long history that spans hundreds of years. Because of this, His Majesty added that both sides share many connections in culture, language and even cuisine, which His Majesty said has been one of the foundations of a successful partnership.

Looking to the future, His Majesty said he is confident that there is much more that can be achieved together by further expanding the existing cooperation in political security, economic and socio-cultural areas.

"There is also much potential in the work on connectivity, which has recently been embarked on together. This will not only bring the people together, but also expand the trade and business network," His Majesty said.

His Majesty also expressed his appreciation to the Government of India's continuous support and commitment to the Asean Connectivity Master Plan, and said he was pleased that many of this year's commemorative activities such as the Car Rally and Sudarshini expedition reflected the effort in this area.

As this year marks a milestone when Asean and India have surpassed the trade target of US$70 billion, His Majesty said this demonstrates the growing strength of the trade relations between Asean and India, despite global economic uncertainties.

His Majesty also thanked the Indian Prime Minister for his efforts and personal commitment to strengthen the trade cooperation.

His Majesty appreciated India's continued participation in the Asean Regional Forum (ARF), the Asean Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Plus as well as the expanded Asean Maritime Forum.

In closing his titah, His Majesty asserted Brunei's commitment as country coordinator for Asean's Dialogue Partnership with India and said Brunei was keen in strengthening the cooperation, together with the support of Asean and said he was confident that both could build on the progress that has already been achieved and ensure that this strategic partnership brings benefit to all people.

The Plenary Session concluded with the adoption of the Vision Statement of the Asean-India Commemorative Summit that brings future direction to the bloc in the areas of Political security, Economy, Socio-Cultural and Development, Connectivity and Regional Architecture.

Prior to the commencement of the Plenary Session, His Majesty with other Asean leaders and the Indian Prime Minister attended a group photo session, at the Rani Bagh, Taj Palace Hotel.

His Majesty was greeted on arrival at the Vazir Lounge, Taj Palace Hotel, by the Indian Prime Minister.

Accompanying His Majesty were Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office and Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II. - Borneo Bulletin (21 December 2012)