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'India to elevate EAsia engagement to new levels'

By Staff
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Google Oneindia News

New Delhi, Jan 13: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left here todayto attend the 5th India-ASEAN Summit and the 2nd East Asia Summit (EAS)at Cebu in the Philippines on January 14-15 as part of the country'sefforts to give a fresh impetus to its 'Look East Policy' and ''elevateits engagement in East Asia to qualitatively new levels.''

In astatement prior to his departure, Dr Singh said India's participationin both the summits was a reflection of the increasing significance ofthe ''eastern orientation'' of India's foreign policy and its quest forcloser enagement with the countries of East Asia.

He said that in the India-ASEAN Summit, he would have anopportunity to review, with leaders of ASEAN countries, the progressthat had been achieved over the last year in India's economic dialoguewith ASEAN countries.

''We will consider new initiatives that can be undertaken to accelerate this process,'' he said.

The Prime Minister said he believed that the India-ASEAN FreeTrade Agreement was an important initiative to promote greater economicsynergy and he would explore steps that both sides can take to hastenthe conclusion of this important agreement.

Dr Singh said that the 2nd East Asia Summit would provide anopportunity to take a look at a process that was initiated last year toput in place a regional architecture for greater cooperation andeconomic integration among countries of East Asia. The agenda of thesummit would include energy security, stabilisation of the regionalfinancial system, mitigating natural disasters, environment and othersubjects of common interest that could ''only be tackled effectivelywithin a broad inclusive framewrok.'' The Prime Minister said he wouldhold bilateral meetings, among others, with Philippines PresidentGloria Macpagal Arroyo, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Vietnam's PrimeMinister Nguyen Tan Dung.

''I am looking forward to this visit and to utilising it toelevate India's engagement in East Asia to qualitatively new levels,''Dr Singh added.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee was in Cebu yesterdayand today for the ministerial meetings, but will leave for a two-dayvisit to Pakistan beginning tomorrow. Commerce and Industry MinisterKamal Nath is also there.

The two summits were originally scheduled for last month but thePhilippines postponed the 12th ASEAN Summit and all other relatedevents because of concerns over an approaching typhoon.

The East Asia Summit was established in December, 2005, at KualaLumpur as a forum for dialogue on broad, strategic, political andeconomic issues of common interest and concern to promote peace,stability and economic prosperity in the region.

The India-ASEAN summit tomorrow afternoon will review the ongoingcooperation in various fields, including information technology,economic assistance to less developed CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar andVietnam) countries, tourism, transportation and infrastructure.

The EAS, which will be attended by 16 countries of the region onMonday morning, will focus on energy security, education, avianinfluenza, natural disaster management and steps to take the process ofregional integration forward.

The East Asian leaders will issue the Cebu Declaration on Energy Security on the same day.

Dr Singh is scheduled to leave for India on Monday afternoon andreach Kolkata that night. After an overnight stay there, he isscheduled to visit Asom to review the situation there.

ASEAN brings together Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Apart from the 10 ASEAN members and India, the EAS will be attended by Japan, China, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.


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