New Delhi [India], February 13 (ANI): The Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Education, Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, on Monday met with ASEAN Secretary General Kao Kim Hourn, who is in India on his maiden official visit.

During the meeting, the Union Minister highlighted India's old civilisationational connect with Southeast Asia and reaffirmed the country's support for ASEAN centrality and unity.

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Taking to X, the Union Minister shared details about his meeting with the ASEAN Secretary General, posting, "Had the pleasure of hosting @hourn_kao Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, Secretary-General of @ASEAN on his first official visit to India. Underlined our millienia old civilisationational connect with South East Asia and reaffirmed our support for ASEAN centrality and unity."

Earlier, on Monday, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met Kao Kim Hourn in the national capital.

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The two leaders discussed connectivity, food security and trade. In a post about the meeting on social media platform X, the EAM wrote, "Pleased to meet Secretary General Dr. Kao Kim Hourn of ASEAN today morning."

"Discussed taking forward our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Our agenda focused on connectivity, food security and trade," he added.

Hourn arrived in Delhi on Sunday evening, kicking off his five-day visit to India.

His first official visit to India since assuming office in January 2023 will culminate on February 15.

In a post on X, the official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Randhir Jaiswal, stated, "A warm welcome to @ASEAN Secretary-General @hourn_kao on his first official visit to India. An opportunity to further strengthen the India-ASEAN Comprehensive Strategic Partnership."

Students from ASEAN Member States pursue higher education at the University under ASEAN-India cooperation projects. Nalanda University also leads the ASEAN-India Network of Universities (AINU), according to the MEA.

In the press release, the MEA stated, "Engagement with ASEAN is an important pillar of India's Act East Policy, which has entered into its 10th year in 2024, as well as its vision for the wider Indo-Pacific. In 2022, the ASEAN-India relations were elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership."

"India firmly supports ASEAN centrality and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP). India also supports the priorities set by Lao PDR in its ASEAN Chairmanship for the year 2024 under the theme 'ASEAN: Enhancing Connectivity and Resilience'," it added. (ANI)

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