The Centre is planning to invite the leaders of the 10 ASEAN nations for the Republic Day parade next year, reported Times of India on Saturday. This is being seen as a major step towards the government’s ‘Act East’ policy as it will bring together leaders from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
World leaders like former US President Barack Obama, former French president François Hollande and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan have been chief guests at Republic Day celebrations in the past.
Stressing on the importance of shared relations between India and ASEAN nations, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had recently said the two face common traditional and non-traditional security challenges. “We have enhanced our engagement in South-East Asia. This was reflected in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks in 2014 at the India-ASEAN Summit in Myanmar where he declared that India’s ‘Look East Policy’ has become ‘Act East Policy’,” she said while speaking at the ministerial session of Delhi Dialogue-IX.
“Freedom of navigation and respect for international law is therefore imperative in this context. Equally, we remain committed with Asean to enhance our maritime cooperation, to realise the full potential of our ocean economy. We will continue to step up cooperation in countering terrorism, piracy and other transnational crimes,” she added.
PM Modi has also addressed the ASEAN Business investment summit in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia in 2015.
The move is particularly significant considering India’s current relationship with China which has earned the displeasure of the region due to the South China Sea dispute. At least four of the ten ASEAN nations, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Brune, are involved in the South China Sea dispute.