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Investment, Trade Talks Expected for India President

Indian President Pratibha Patil arrived in the capital on Monday to hold talks with Cambodian leaders on trade, investment and other economic ties, officials said.

Patil will conduct a six-day visit, meeting with King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen and other leaders.

She was given a traditional welcome Monday as she arrived at Phnom Penh International Airport, where Kong Sam Ol, the Minister for the Royal Palace, awaited her.

Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the state visit would improve bilateral cooperation in trade, investment and tourism.

India exported more than $35 million in goods to Cambodia in 2009 and nearly $22 million for the first six months of 2010, according to government figures. Cambodian exports to India were $755,000 and $326,000 for the same periods.

Patil, who will also visit Siem Reap, was quoted by Asian News International saying the visit would “enhance our economic engagement with Cambodia.”

“I will assure them that they can count on India as a willing development partner,” she was quoted saying before her departure. “Our efforts in this direction have been towards undertaking infrastructure projects and capacity building programs in these countries. Our trade and investment linkages have grown over the years although they remain much below potential.”

Patil also said she wanted to bolster counter-terrorism cooperation with Cambodia.

“I believe India, Laos and Cambodia have much to gain by cooperating with each other in combating extremism and terrorism,” she said.

Patil will also sign an agreement with Cambodia for training and exchange between Cambodia's National Audit Authority and India's Comptroller and Auditor General. A second agreement on a water project between Cambodia's government and the Export-Import Bank of India is expected.