While laying emphasis on the freedom of navigation in the maritime domain, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said security cooperation in this domain was the major focus of discussions with ASEAN leaders. Addressing the ASEAN India Commemorative Summit in New Delhi, PM Modi said, “India shares the ASEAN vision for rule-based societies and values of peace. We are committed to working with ASEAN nations to enhance collaboration in the maritime domain.”
Reflecting on the partnership of ASEAN nations since the 1990s, the Prime Minister said, “Our partnership has evolved, we have made success in implementing the objective of ASEAN-India partnership for peace, progress and shared prosperity through five-year plan of action. Our collective presence in India has touched hearts of my 1.25 billion fellow Indians.”
Highlighting the importance information and communication technology, he said it will forge new bond of digital connectivity between India and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and help connect remote areas.
The nature of ASEAN-India partnership has evolved significantly, he said, while proposing a dialogue on digital financial inclusion and investment promotion to deepen understanding and cooperation in financial matters.
“Our trade has grown 25 times in 25 years. Investments are robust and growing. We will further enhance trade ties and work towards greater interaction among our business communities,” Modi said at the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit here.
PM Modi also highlighted the strategic importance of ASEAN, which he said was at the centre of India’s Act East Policy. “Our friendship has been nurtured by our shared culture & civilisation linkages. The Ramayana, the ancient India epic continues to be a valuable shared legacy in ASEAN & Indian subcontinent. Buddhism also binds us closely. Islam in many parts of South East Asia has distinctive Indian connection going back several centuries.”
As per officials, the two-day India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit in New Delhi is expected to give boost to the cooperation in key areas of counter-terrorism, security and connectivity amidst increasing Chinese economic and military assertiveness in the region.
The ASEAN leaders will also be chief guests at the Republic Day tomorrow which was termed by Modi as “historic and unprecedented”.
Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister held bilateral talks with his counterpart from Thailand Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha on strengthening cooperation in
strategic areas of trade, defence and security. He also held meetings with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the current chair of the ASEAN grouping, and Sultan of Brunei Darussalam Hassanal Bolkiah. The prime minister has had bilateral meetings with six ASEAN leaders since Wednesday.
These meetings on the sidelines of the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit to mark the 25 years of Indo-ASEAN ties, come in the backdrop of increasing Chinese economic and military assertiveness in the region.
Meanwhile, China reacted cautiously to India hosting top ASEAN leaders on the country’s 69th Republic Day and hoped that all countries can work jointly to maintain peace, stability and the development of the region. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told PTI: “We hope all countries can work together for peace, stability and development of the region.” Also Read: Indian media does not trust us: China on coverage of ASEAN leaders attending 69th Republic Day
(With PTI inputs)