New Delhi: Puducherry, a former French colony, and Dali city in China are keen on joining hands to establish cooperation in the fields of art, culture, education and trade, chief minister V. Narayanasamy said in New Delhi on Monday.

The two cities “have similarities" and the Puducherry government would soon approach the ministry of external affairs for signing an agreement to cement the ties, Narayanasamy said.

“Both the sides (Puducherry and Dali Prefecture) have had talks in this regard for the past several months. In fact, a top official from Puducherry government had also visited the city. We want to sign an MoU as sister cities, that will enhance exchange in cooperation in various sectors," Narayanasamy told reporters on the sidelines of an event.

Dali is a city in China’s southwestern Yunnan province, on the shores of Erhai Lake. Its history stretches back to the kingdom of Nanzhao in the eighth century. The city is one of Yunnan’s most popular tourist destinations and is home to some of the most ancient temples and landmarks, and Dali University.

Chen Jian, secretary of the CPC Dali Bai Prefectural Committee said, “We are also very keen to sign an MoU with Puducherry to facilitate cooperation in the fields of art, architecture, education and trade."

“We also feel the two cities have similarities. Education is one area where, we think, the sides can cooperate the most. Both are historic places with beautiful architecture. Tourism will also be boosted on both sides," he said.

A delegation, comprising members from both the Dali administration and the business sector, is currently visiting India. They held a business to business conference on Monday which was attended by the Puducherry chief minister.

A senior official, accompanying the delegation, said: “About 1,000 Indian students are currently in Dali for pursuing different courses or as part of exchange programmes."

“About 10 people are from the government and 30 from different companies are in the delegation. We arrived in India on February 20. We visited Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi," she said.