PM Goh happy that Rao has raised ‘Indian fever’

THE visit of Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao has raised the temperature of the “Indian fever” generated by Mr Goh Chok Tong’s visit to the country in January this year.

Speaking to reporters after he and Mr Rao held a meeting with Singapore and Indian businessmen at the Raffles Hotel yesterday, Mr Goh said: “I believe that this visit has raised the temperature of the fever and we are delighted.”

At the same time, he said, India was also in the grip of “Singapore fever”.

The Indian Prime Minister, in a brief interview with The Straits Times when he was at the Alamkara exhibition at the National Museum, said that both countries had made a “solid addition” to their bilateral ties during his trip.

“The whole visit is a high point,” he said.”We have been continuously engaged in discussions in finding ways to come closer and how economic cooperation could be enhanced in several fields. I am sure this will go on.”

Mr Goh agreed that the Indian leader’s three-day visit had succeeded in forging closer economic ties.

“Our relations are getting better,” he said. Ties would strengthen with greater investment and trade between the two nations, he added, noting that the second wing of Singapore’s economy was “moving very quickly” into India.

Asked how Singapore could be a gateway for India to engage economically in the region, Mr Goh said he would like to see Indian companies investing in the Republic and through Singapore invest in China, Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia. There was no time-frame for such a development to occur “but the faster the better”.

Asked about India’s interest in joining the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum and the Asean Regional Forum, Mr Goh said: “The door is not locked. It may not be open, but it is not locked. India is waiting for the right opportunity to come in.”

Apec leaders at the Seattle summit in November decided to freeze new membership for three years.

Mr Rao himself said India was not rushing to join forums like Apec. “I don’t want to knock on closed doors.”

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