Kohima: Underlining the Centre’s ‘Look East Policy’, President Pratibha Patil on Thursday asked the north-eastern states to strive hard in being part of the Indian growth story by harnessing their potentials.

 “The 'Look East Policy' provides great opportunity for growth and development in the region for its close proximity to south-east Asian countries,” Patil said.

She was addressing a gathering at a public reception from the Nagaland government at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama near here on her maiden two-day visit to the state.

"I am pleased that the north-eastern region is pursuing 'Vision 2020' for its development and also has a regional council. Moreover, this region stands strategically at the door step of the nations of south east Asia and can play a crucial role in the development of our Look East policy," she said.

An increased connectivity with countries to the east of India would open the scope for investment and tourism, including eco and cultural tourism, in the NE states, a sector which has not really so far performed to its potential.

The President said accelerated development of the NE region, which has contributed much to richness of the nation, is fundamental for the country's economic rise.

Patil also insisted on investment in human resources development and capacity building of the people under the changed scenario and new paradigm of development.

Chief Minister Neiphu Rio urged her to persuade the Centre to expedite the ongoing Naga peace talks to find a lasting settlement to the decades-old political conflict at the earliest, saying the unresolved Naga issue has an adverse impact on the growth and development of the state.

The President later left for Imphal on a two-day visit to the neighbouring Manipur.