"We welcome foreign direct investments in our railways, roads and ports, power and communications sectors, we invite Norwegian companies to join Indian counterparts in the 'Make in India' initiative of the new government and we are presently simplifying the procedures to facilitate their participation in India's growth story," Mukherjee said at the state banquet hosted by King Harald V and Queen Sonja at the Royal Palace last night.

Asserting that while trade between India and Norway has been expanding but there is significant potential waiting to be realised, he said, "The new government is taking a number of measures to encourage investments, revive the manufacturing sector in India, promote skill development, develop smart cities and engage closely with all interested partners and investors in India and abroad to make this happen".

Enlisting the areas in which India and Norway have a rewarding trade partnership including oil exploration and scientific research, Mukherjee said both the countries are keen to expand the scope of their collaborative efforts in earth sciences, bio-technology, clean energy, fishing and health care.

"I am confident that the bilateral agreements that we have signed will lead to further fruitful engagement in the many fields where India and Norway have obvious complementarities," the President said.

Mukherjee, who is the first Indian head of state to visit the Scandinavian country, congratulated Norway on celebration of the bicentennial of its Constitution and thanked its
government for the assistance and support extended to India in establishing its Polar Research Station in Svalbard.

"We are grateful for your endorsement of India's rightful claim to Permanent Membership of the United Nations Security Council and for your proactive efforts that helped India achieve Observer status in the Arctic Council," the President added.

Applauding the role played by Norway in global efforts aimed at peace and development, Mukherjee said, "Norway’s contribution to the recognition of exceptional human endeavour in all fields of activity, through the institution of the Nobel Peace Prize, is an outstanding example of the lead taken by you in advancement of human and civilisational values."

Raising a toast to the enduring friendly relations between India and Norway, the President said, "Though our two nations are geographically distant from each other, we are bound by our common commitment to democratic values and practice.  Our bilateral relations have never been better and we are both desirous of enhancing our co-operation to its full potential."
    
Mukherjee, also extended an invitation to the King of Norway to visit India saying its been around three decades since the Norwegian head visited the country and it has progressed and evolved in many ways since then.
    
"You have visited India about three decades ago. India has progressed and evolved in many ways since then.  I invite you to visit India at a time of your convenience. It would be an honour and privilege to receive you in New Delhi," the President said.

Welcoming the president, King Harald V said that Norway had noted with great interest ambitions of newly-elected government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi including his agenda of rapid economic and social transformation and his invitation to foreign investors to engage in commercial cooperation.

"Norway stands ready to further expand our partnership, turning the differences between us into assets. We can offer you technology and know-how, as well as resources and investments that will help to advance your development in the years to come," the Norwegian king said at the banquet.

He said Norwegian companies are increasingly investing, trading, and producing in India, as well as outsourcing services to India.

"Our cooperation in the field of research and innovation is developing rapidly. We would also like to see more Norwegian students enrol at your excellent higher education institutions," he said.
    
The king said the 21st century has been dubbed "the Asian century. India will have a great stake in its development. The choices you make will have a real bearing on the rest of the world."

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