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‘India fully supports a strong, united Southeast Asia,’ says Jaishankar, emphasizing the importance of ASEAN in geopolitics.

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'India fully supports a strong, united Southeast Asia,' says Jaishankar, emphasizing the importance of ASEAN in geopolitics.

India is inviting foreign ministers from ASEAN countries to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its relations with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday that India firmly supports a strong, united, and prosperous Association of Southeast Asian Nations as he met with foreign ministers for the ASEAN summit.

As they gathered for a special ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ meeting, Jaishankar and his counterparts from other countries posed for a group photo.

“Given the world’s geopolitical problems and uncertainties, ASEAN’s role now is probably more vital than ever.” “India strongly supports a strong, united, and prosperous ASEAN, with its role in the Indo-Pacific recognized,” Jaishankar said.

Top Indian and ASEAN officials held extended talks on Wednesday, a day before their foreign ministerial meeting, which is anticipated to focus on expanding trade and strategic relations and increasing Indo-Pacific cooperation. Singapore’s Vivian Balakrishnan, Vietnam’s Bui Thanh Son, Indonesia’s Retno Marsudi, and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn and Brunei’s FM II Dato Erywan, have already arrived in the national capital for the two-day India-ASEAN talks, which begin on Thursday.

India is inviting foreign ministers from ASEAN countries to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its relations with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Myanmar, a member of the group, will be represented at the meeting of foreign ministers.

On Wednesday, a top Myanmarese embassy official attended the Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) in New Delhi. The India-ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting is expected to focus on overall trends in the Indo-Pacific region and strategies to strengthen ties in the face of geopolitical developments such as the Ukraine crisis.

Foreign ministers are also expected to debate the situation in the South China Sea, a resource-rich region where China has been showing its muscles more recently. The top officials examined the ASEAN-India strategic cooperation and its future orientation, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), and deliberated on the procedures for further implementation of the two sides ‘plan of action’ (2021-2025).

India and numerous other nations, including the United States, China, Japan, and Australia, are conversation partners of the ASEAN, considered one of the most prominent groups in the region. 

The relationship between India and ASEAN has improved in recent years, focusing on expanding cooperation in areas such as trade and investment, as well as security and defense.

According to the MEA, the SOM evaluated cooperative development across the three pillars of partnership: political-security, economic, and socio-cultural. 

The meeting also discussed the next steps in implementing the ASEAN-India Plan of Action (2021-2025), as well as exchanging perspectives on regional and international topics of mutual importance, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery.

Saurabh Kumar co-chaired the meeting, the MEA’s Secretary (East). He stressed the implementation of the ASEAN-India joint statement on collaboration on the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, emphasizing the importance of ASEAN in India’s Indo-Pacific agenda (AOIP).

The MEA stated that the ASEAN side appreciated India’s support for ASEAN, and regional architecture is driven by ASEAN. “As the ASEAN-India collaboration enters its fourth decade, the deep historical and cultural links between India and ASEAN continue to provide a firm foundation,” the MEA stated.

The ASEAN-India conversation relationship began in 1992 with forming a sectoral collaboration, which progressed to a full dialogue partnership in December 1995 and summit-level cooperation in 2002. In 2012, the ties were raised to a strategic alliance. The ASEAN is at the heart of India’s Act East Policy and Indo-Pacific strategy.

“The two sides also reviewed the calendar of events for the ASEAN-India Friendship Year in 2022, which will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the ASEAN-India partnership deal,” MEA said.

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