India seeks to bolster ties with ASEAN

MANILA, Aug 6 -- India is committed to strengthening its ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as it pursues its vision for prosperity, security and stability in the region.

ASEAN occupies a central place in the security architecture of Asia Pacific region. It is our view that precisely because ASEAN represents the cultural, commercial and social crossroads of the region. It has the unique ability to reflect and harmonize larger interests of the world beyond it, India Minister of State for External Affairs Vijay Kumar Singh said in his opening remarks during the ASEAN- India Ministerial Meeting held Sunday at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

India will celebrate 25 years of partnership with the ASEAN by organizing various activities spanning a wide range of areas including political, economic, cultural, youth and tourism.

These activities include an ASEAN- India Expo and business summit, an ASEAN- India Car Rally, a sailing expedition, a series of youth and students exchange programs and cultural festivals.

A Commemorative Summit on ASEAN- India relations is also set to be held in January next year.

We feel that the summit will be a reaffirmation of our shared quest for prosperity, stability and security, Singh said.

This is also a great opportunity to revitalize our strategic, political, economic, and cultural dialogue on issues that we have discussed over a period of time, he added.

India started engaging with ASEAN in 1992 through a sectoral dialogue partnership. In 1996, India was welcomed as a full dialogue partner. It has joined the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus), Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF), and several other platforms commonly shared with ASEAN.

India also intends to pursue its Look East policy through the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC).

Source: Philippines News Agency