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'Act East' & 'Neighbourhood First' policies to have impact beyond SE Asia: Jaishankar

Act East & Neighbourhood First policies to have impact beyond SE Asia: Jaishankar

Guwahati: External Affairs minister S Jaishankar on Saturday said the coming together of 'Act East' and 'Neighbourhood First' policies will have an enormous reinforcing impact on the country beyond the confines of South-East Asia.

The realisation of this is evident from the potential of BIMSTEC in the Bay of Bengal region, he said addressing the Natural Allies in Development and Interdependence (NADI) conclave here.

Land connectivity through Myanmar and sea connectivity through Bangladesh will open up all the ways to Vietnam and the Philippines, he said.

"Once this becomes viable on a commercial scale, it will create an East-West lateral with sweeping consequences for the continent," Jaishankar said.

It will not only build on the partnership with the ASEAN countries and Japan but will actually make a difference to the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework that is now in the making, the union minister said.

"It is definitely within our ability to overcome geography and rewrite history if only we can get the politics and economics right," he said.

Jaishankar said this vision can be successfully realised by enhancing connectivity with Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar to improve access to ASEAN countries and beyond.

Restoration of six historical cross-border rail links dormant since 1965 is a major step towards connectivity with Bangladesh, particularly with the North East, he said.

Jaishankar highlighted various ongoing projects in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar which have led to collaboration with these countries which in turn ushered regional cooperation in various sectors and strengthening of the economy not only between the two points of collaboration but also in the areas within these points.

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