"The northeast has remarkable potential for developing adventure tourism, environment tourism and the setting up of finer educational institutions due to the conducive climate, environment and people, with wonderful cultural ethos," Salman Khurshid said.

The minister was addressing an event organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) titled, "Opportunity Northeast: Emerging International Connectivity".

"In today's time, trade with ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) constitutes 10 percent of global trade. We are the sixth-largest trading partner of ASEAN and that encourages us to reach 100 billion US dollar trade target by 2015, and I hope that this will largely be from the northeast," the minister said.

He also told industry stakeholders that within a span of months, there would be better air connectivity between the northeast and other ASEAN capitals, particularly with Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw. The city became capital of the country in 2005. It is more strategically and centrally located than the earlier capital, Yangon.

"Some private airlines are willing to have some weekly and daily flights and hopefully this is something we can encourage our own airlines to pick up and push forward," he said.

The external affairs minister said India would soon sign the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area Agreement, and once that comes into force, it will constitute a combined population of 1.8 billion, and combined GDP of USD 4.1 trillion.

Promising to work for the development of the northeast, the minister said, "We need to project the northeast much more, and also seek better coordination from the respective state governments."

(Agencies)

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