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Diplomats in Kaziranga

Jorhat, Feb. 20: Diplomats from about 15 countries have congregated at the Kaziranga Golf Resort at Mohbandha here, 290km from Guwahati, in what is essentially a tourism exposure trip.

The ambassadors and high commissioners, who arrived on a chartered plane from New Delhi today and were taken to the golf resort at Sangsua tea estate in 17 vehicles, will participate in the first Assam International Diplomats Invitation Golf Meet to be held at the sprawling 18-hole golf course located at the resort on February 22.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi is scheduled to tee off the event.

Tonight, rock band MTB Trio from Guwahati will entertain the high profile guests at the resort. Tomorrow, they will tour Kaziranga National Park, additional deputy commissioner David K. Timung told reporters at the DC’s conference hall. Their itinerary for the day would include a visit to Kaziranga University.

The diplomats include Indonesian ambassador Rizali W. Indrakesuma, Philippine ambassador Benito B. Valeriano, Cambodian ambassador Yous Makan, Kazakhstan’s ambassador Doulat Kuanshev, Zimbabwean ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe, Brunei high commissioner Dato Paduka Sidek Ali and deputy head of European Union delegation Pavel Svitil, among others. Sri Lankan high commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam will fly back on Saturday and will only visit the national park.

The Zimbabwean ambassador is accompanied by his wife while the Philippines and Kazakhstan ambassadors are accompanied by their sons.

Besides the diplomats, golfers from Assam and the Northeast will also take part in the event. Timung said the leisure trip would not include any diplomatic parleys with the chief minister.

“It is essentially a relaxation trip in which the diplomats will enjoy the recreational facilities available at Burra Sahib bungalow and the cottages at Sangsua tea estate where they have been put up, play a bit of golf and enjoy the scenic beauty of the sprawling tea gardens in the midst of which the golf course is laid. In Kaziranga, they will go on an elephant safari and see our famed one-horned rhinos and other fauna,” he said.

The event has been organised by the Assam Tourism Development Corporation Limited (ATDCL) in association with Assam Golf Association, the Sunday Guardian, Oil India Limited and Kaziranga University, among others.

ATDCL sources said the itinerary for the tournament was finalised at a high-level meeting convened by Gogoi at his official residence on February 13. “Gogoi had stressed that the diplomats would get an opportunity to experience the splendour of wildlife, tea and the rich cultural heritage of Assam during their stay which should be made as pleasant as possible,” a source said.