S'pore to aid Andhra in developing capital

SINGAPORE -Former Singapore Prime Minister and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who was in India for an official visit from Sept 7 to 11, met the chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh N. Chandrababu Naidu and Telangana K. Chandrashekhar Rao, before heading to New Delhi on Sept 9 to call on the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, whom he met on Sept 10.

In Hyderabad, Mr Goh and Mr Naidu discussed the state's development plans, which included setting up a new state capital. Hyderabad is currently the shared capital of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, after Telangana became the 29th state of India. Mr Goh invited Mr Naidu and his officials to visit Singapore to study the country's best practices and tap on the network of local and foreign investors, in order to help develop the state capital, which is likely to come up in 10 years' time.

Mr Goh's delegation to India included Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry S. Iswaran and Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee. The trip was aimed at promoting stronger links between the next generation of ministers from both countries.

In Delhi, Mr Goh also called on former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh, Congress party president Sonia Gandhi and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Lal Krishna Advani.

After Delhi, Mr Goh visited Bhopal, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on Sept 11.

Mr Goh is a frequent traveller to India but it was the first time he met the new Indian prime minister, Mr Modi, since his BJP party registered a landslide victory in the country's general elections in May.

During the visit, Mr Iswaran met India's civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju. During their meeting the two discussed Vistara - the new airline set up jointly by Singapore Airlines and India's Tata Group. They also talked about other ways of expanding civil aviation cooperation.

Vistara is expected to start operations next month. Mr Iswaran said: "Civil aviation is one area which we have continuing interest in, partly because of bilateral flows in traffic between Singapore and India and also with the recent Tata-SIA venture Vistara."

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