New Delhi: The Asean "tiger" and the Indian "elephant" must meet and cooperate in areas of growth like trade, agriculture, tourism, culture and people-to-people contact through greater connectivity, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said as he inaugurated an ASEAN-India Centre here Friday.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony of the centre, which is being set up by the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), Khurshid said the setting up of the centre was an indication of India's commitment to building greater and closer connectivity with the 10-member Asean.
India was working on building greater air, road and sea connectivity with the region, with which it has ancient cultural linkages, he said at the ceremony at the India Habitat Centre.
He praised RIS for setting up the centre within six months of the India-Asean Commemorative Summit held in New Delhi in December 2012 calling for such a centre to be set up.
Khurshid said the holding of the commemorative summit, the Asean-India car rally and the sailing of the INS Sudarshini to Asean ports last year, all were examples of the "tremendous energy, bonding and family feeling" between India and the Asean.
He said with the setting up of the centre, to be led by RIS chairperson Shyam Saran, "one can look at creativity of remarkable level and leveraging best practices of Asean and India".
The centre would help create a "special corridor of cooperation nor seen anywhere before".
He said the Asean-India free trade agreement and the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), which is still under negotiations, will provide "enormous new opportunities and challenges".
Vietnam Ambassador Nguyen Thanh Tan, who is chairperson of the Asean New Delhi Committee, said the centre would boost cooperation between Asean and India and pledged support of the 10-member bloc to the effort.
Shyam Saran, former foreign secretary, said that with the setting up of the centre "the best is yet to come in Asean-India relations". He said the centre would work to strengthen India's cooperation with Asean in its realisation of the Asean community by 2015, comprising three pillars - namely the Asean political security community, the Asean economic community and Asean socio-cultural community.