PM seeks ‘strategic construct’ with East Asia

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought to lend a more “strategic construct” for India’s relationship with the ASEAN bloc of 10 countries.

Brunei | Published: October 11, 2013 5:10:28 am

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought to lend a more “strategic construct” for India’s relationship with the ASEAN bloc of 10 countries during the two-day East Asia Summit in Brunei focusing on critical aspects such as security,defence cooperation,intelligence sharing and counter terrorism. This comes on top of a strong economic partnership that the country nurtured with ASEAN over the last two decades.

According to sources present in the India-ASEAN Summit,Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yodhoyono sought to expand the scope of ASEAN’s relations with India to include counter terrorism and intelligence sharing. India and ASEAN will closely discuss setting up of a regional security architecture,an official source said. Singh arrived in Jakarta later in the evening for bilateral talks with Indonesia.

In a 30-minute meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott,Singh was assured that negotiations to the nuclear cooperation agreement would be brought to closure at an early date. During the talks,Abbott committed to stepping up the strategic engagement with India. “The third round of discussions with Australia over uranium sales and the nuclear agreement are scheduled in December,” said Ashok Kantha,Secretary (East),Ministry of External Affairs.

Australia,one of the first countries to sign an international agreement with India on the proposed Nalanda University,has also agreed on closer defence security cooperation with definite plans to undertake a joint naval exercise in 2015. “He (Abbott) has emphasised on much closer interaction with India,” Kantha said briefing media persons en route to Indonesia after the two-day summit in Brunei.

The Indian Prime Minister also had a 15-minute meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two countries are scheduled to undertake their annual naval exercises later this year. “This will be the second such edition,” Kantha said. The Prime Minister,who was in Japan this May,was promised Japanese support to some marquee infrastructure projects including the Delhi Metro and the Dedicated Freight Corridor.

With the ASEAN as well,India hopes to take it to the next strategic level with Prime Minister Singh announcing the setting up a separate mission in Jakarta. India has 26 dialogue mechanisms with ASEAN bloc and a resident Ambassador with a focussed mission would be able to do more justice to building the relationship. The Chairman’s statement at the end of the India-ASEAN Summit recognised the importance of security,peace and stability in the region.

P Vaidyanathan Iyer

EAST ASIA & ASEAN-INDIA summit

‘Disputes on South China Sea must be resolved between concerned parties’

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: Amidst loud concerns of several dialogue partners of the East Asia Summit,notably the US,Japan,Australia and India about Beijing’s growing influence in South China Sea,Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday launched an offensive in Brunei stating that disputes relating to the sea should be resolved between parties directly concerned. “ We all agree that disputes in the South China Sea should be addressed through consultation and negotiation between parties directly concerned,” said Li addressing ASEAN nations at the 16th ASEAN-China Summit. At the East Asia summit,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,however,underscored the essentiality of a stable maritime environment to realise “collective regional aspirations”.

P Vaidyanathan Iyer

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