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Cambodia, India in talks for direct flights

By Annie SamsonPhnom Penh (Cambodia), November 13 (ANI): Cambodia and India are exploring direct flights between the two countries, which share historical linkages dating back centuries.

To travel to Cambodia from places in India, currently, people have to take a connecting flight to a nearby country like Singapore, Malaysia, or Thailand.

Talking to media persons under the India-ASEAN media exchange programme on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit meetings here, Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said that they realize that there is an issue of connectivity and that talks are underway for establishing direct air connectivity to Indian cities, New Delhi and Bodhgaya with Phnom Penh.

"Many people in Cambodia want to go to India and that is why we are discussing direct flight between our countries. There is a choice of two flights, Phohm Pen to New Delhi and to Bodhgaya between Phohm Penh to Bodhgaya. Two flights we are discussing because a lot of Cambodians visit every year mostly old people they go there," Kanharith said.

The minister said that there was already an agreement in place for Thailand and Vietnam in which people who have a visa from either country, can come to Cambodia, and likewise, those who have a Cambodian visa can travel to those two countries.

"There is a lot of tradition in India, a lot of our roots are in India," the Cambodian minister said.

The minister pointed out that many people want to travel to India to discover their roots. There are many Buddhists who want to pay their respects to the land of the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Similarly, he said that Cambodia has a rich tradition of temples and pagodas and people from India are interested in visiting to see the ancient marvels. India has been assisting in the restoration and conservation efforts of several temples.

During Jagdeep Dhankar's recent visit to Cambodia for the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit to commemorate the 30th anniversary of relations between India and ASEAN, the Vice President of India inaugurated and threw open the 'Hall of Dancers' at the Ta Prohm temple in Siem Reap, which has been restored by the Archeological Survey of India.

"We know everybody loves Angkor Wat but we have more than that, ... we have a lot of people from India as tourists and that is why it is important to move forward our knowledge of religion, and culture," the Cambodian minister said.

The agreement for direct flights between the two countries was reached in 2021 during a meeting between the Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and the Indian ambassador to Cambodia Devyani Uttam Khobragade.

Jaspal Singh, an Indian entrepreneur who has established a pharmaceutical business in Cambodia said that when the Indian community heard about the proposal for direct flights there was much enthusiasm.

"We were very happy when we got to know that there is a proposal, Then Covid happened and we do not know what the current status is," said Singh, who has been living in Cambodia for close to two decades.

Apart from being home to the magnificent Hindu and Buddhist temples, which include the famed Angkor Wat, the 'Kingdom of Wonder' also has some lesser-explored and picturesque islands and resort towns (Kampot and Kep).

The introduction of direct flights will enable people to opt for Cambodia as a tourist destination and make travel more affordable. It will also enhance joint efforts to boost people-to-people connectivity, which is a key priority of the Indian government's 'Act Eat' policy. (ANI)