India today called for expanding the areas of cooperation among the member countries of the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) bloc to further deepen mutually beneficial partnership and cooperation.
"...Let me also reiterate that the cooperation among our countries as part of the MGC framework, aims at restoring and re-invigorating these ancient linkages leading up to the building of an inclusive and prosperous society," Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said addressing the eighth Mekong Ganga Cooperation Ministerial Meeting here.
"It is in pursuance of this aim that we have proposed to add newer areas of cooperation to the traditional areas on tourism, culture, education, transport and communication," Singh said.
He said India that the member states were looking forward to sustaining this progress in the years to come and in further deepening our mutually beneficial partnership and cooperation.
The MGC is an initiative by India and five ASEAN countries, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam for cooperation in tourism, culture, education, as well as transport and communications.
It was launched in 2000 at Vientiane, Laos.
Both the Ganga and the Mekong are civilisational rivers, and the MGC initiative aims to facilitate closer contacts among the people inhabiting these two major river basins.
Singh said India after successfully organisation the International Buddhist Conclave in Varanasi in 2016 wants to make this an annual activity.
"We look forward to closely working with Myanmar for developing the 'Buddhist Trail' and designate points of contact for enhancing tourism cooperation among MGC countries," he said.
On connectivity among the MGC countries, Singh said that "we have shared the concept notes on formation of task forces on maritime connectivity and extension of (India-Myanmar- Thailand) trilateral highway into Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam".
For mapping the shared civilisational linkages of India and the other MGC member countries, Singh said that two projects have been commissioned.
"The first, called 'Sailing to Swarna Bhumi', will chart and research our maritime encounters as reflected in the syncretic cultures of India and South East Asia. The second, called 'Mapping of Inscriptions along the Mekong' will document inscriptions left by Indian nobles and traders along the Mekong river, which was the main artery of cultural interaction between India and mainland South East Asia for many centuries," Singh said.
He also said the Nalanda University is well underway on its path towards becoming a leading academic institution focusing on Asian history and Mekong Ganga region.
"We also look forward to the support of all MGC countries towards creation of the Common Archival Resource Centre at Nalanda University," Singh said.
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