New Delhi: Economic linkages and co-operation with Pacific island countries are key factors in India's extended 'Act East' policy and New Delhi proposes to extend cooperation with these nations in capacity-building and healthcare, among others, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Thursday.
Even though India is separated from the Pacific island countries by oceans and continents, it is proud to have a long tradition of close friendship with them, Mukherjee told the heads of states who will participate in the 2nd Summit of 'Forum for India-Pacific Island Countries' (FIPIC), when they called on him at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.
He said the Indian government attaches great importance to its relations with their friends among the Pacific island countries.
"The Pacific island countries are generously endowed with natural resources. India would be happy to work with them in harnessing their mineral, marine and hydrocarbon resources, the president said.
The Indian government as well as the private sector are keen to strengthen and diversify bilateral trade and encourage investments in fisheries, agriculture, oil and natural gas, mining and water desalination, he added.
Mukherjee said India appreciates the support it has received from them for its candidature for a permanent seat on an expanded UN Security Council.
The second FIPIC summit would be held on August 21 in Jaipur.
FIPIC has as its members India and 14 Pacific island countries - Fiji, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Mukherjee said: "We particularly appreciate the way that your nations have made the Indian diaspora feel comfortable and secure in distant lands."
"Our government attaches great importance to its relations with our friends in the Pacific island countries. We believe our economic linkages and co-operation with your countries are a key factor in India's extended 'Act East' policy".
The president said that India proposes to enhance its engagement in sectors where their interests converge, like human resource development, capacity-building, healthcare, affordable, clean and renewable energy, adaptation measures for disaster management and infrastructure development.
"India is committed to partner with you in your efforts to achieve the developmental goals of your respective nations. I am convinced that our bilateral cooperation has much greater potential waiting to be realised. India has made considerable progress in the field of information technology, health, solar energy, disaster mitigation and management, agriculture - particularly coconut and coir and oil and natural gas exploration," he added.