PM says unity and centrality of ASEAN an important priority for India

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The ASEAN leaders appreciated India’s role as a trusted partner in the region especially during the current Covid-19 pandemic with its supply of vaccines…reports Asian Lite News.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday underlined the centrality of ASEAN in India’s Act East Policy and in India’s vision for the wider Indo-Pacific vision. He said this while participating in the 18th India-ASEAN Summit at the invitation of King of Brunei, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, the current Chair of ASEAN.

“The unity and centrality of ASEAN has always been an important priority for India. This special role of ASEAN, India’s Act East Policy which is contained in our Security and Growth for All in the Region i.e. “SAGAR” policy. India’s Indo Pacific Oceans Initiative and ASEAN’s outlook for the Indo-Pacific–are the framework for our shared vision and mutual cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region,” the Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Modi also maintained that history is witness that India and ASEAN have had vibrant relations for thousands of years. “This is also reflected in our shared values, traditions, languages, texts, architecture, culture and cuisine,” the Prime Minister said.

He also said that the year 2022 will mark the completion of 30 years of India-ASEAN partnership and India will also complete seventy-five years of its independence.

“I am very happy that we will celebrate this important milestone as the ‘Year of ASEAN-India Friendship’. India is committed to further strengthen ties under the forthcoming Presidency of Cambodia and our Country Coordinator, Singapore,” the Prime Minister said.

The Summit was held virtually and saw participation from the Leaders of ASEAN member states.

Building upon the synergies between the ASEAN Outlook for the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI), Prime Minister Modi and ASEAN leaders welcomed the adoption of the India-ASEAN Joint Statement on cooperation for peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

On COVID-19, Prime Minister Modi highlighted India’s efforts in the fight against the pandemic in the region and also reiterated support for ASEAN’s initiatives in this regard.

The ASEAN leaders appreciated India’s role as a trusted partner in the region especially during the current Covid-19 pandemic with its supply of vaccines.

India has contributed medical supplies worth USD 200,000 to ASEAN’s humanitarian initiative for Myanmar and USD 1 million for ASEAN’s Covid-19 Response Fund.

The leaders exchanged views on enhancing India-ASEAN connectivity in broadest terms including physical, digital and people to people.

To further strengthen India-ASEAN cultural connectivity, Prime Minister Modi announced India’s support for establishing the ASEAN Cultural Heritage List.

On trade and investment, he underlined the importance of diversification and resilience of supply chains for post-COVID economic recovery and in this regard, the need to revamp the India-ASEAN FTA.

They also welcomed India’s support to ASEAN centrality in the Indo-Pacific and looked forward to greater India-ASEAN cooperation in the region through the joint statement.

The discussions also covered regional and international issues of common interest and concern, including South China Sea and terrorism.

Both sides noted the importance of promoting a rules-based order in the region including through upholding adherence to international law, especially the UNCLOS.

The leaders affirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, safety and security in the South China Sea, and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight.

India and ASEAN share a deep, robust and multifaceted relationship and the 18th India-ASEAN Summit provided an opportunity to review the various facets of this relationship and give a direction to the future of the India-ASEAN Strategic Partnership at the highest level.

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