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Swaraj to visit three Southeast Asian nations on her first overseas trip in 2018


External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will visit Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore from January 4-8 to give a boost to India's interactions with countries of the South East Asian region within the framework of its Act East Policy.

Sushma Swaraj

Swaraj will be in Thailand from January 4-5 on the first leg of her visit, during which she will hold extensive talks with her counterpart Don Pramudwinai with an aim to expand bilateral cooperation.

She will visit Indonesia from January 5-6 and then travel to Singapore on a three-day trip.

On her trip to Thailand, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said all aspects of bilateral relations will be discussed with particular focus on political, defence and economic ties.

It said ways to enhance India's engagement with ASEAN countries will also be another aspect of the visit.

Thailand will assume the role of coordinator country for India-ASEAN relations in the middle of 2018.

From Thailand, Swaraj will leave for Indonesia on the second leg of her visit and there she will co-chair the fifth meeting of India-Indonesia Joint Commission with her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi.

Marsudi will host a banquet in Swaraj's honour, the MEA said, adding that the two ministers will also inaugurate the second meeting of ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks.

Swaraj will call on the President of Indonesia, and have other official engagements, including an interaction with representatives of the Indian community, the MEA said.

She will also meet the new Secretary General of ASEAN Lim Jock Hoi.

As the biggest country in the ASEAN region with the largest economy, Indonesia is an important partner for India, including in trade and strategic matters.

"The Joint Commission meeting and other engagements of the external affairs minister will enable the two countries to chart out the course of partnership during the year 2018," the MEA said.

Swaraj will visit Singapore from January 6-8 and there she will inaugurate the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) of ASEAN countries on January 7.

The theme of the event is "Ancient Route, New Journey: Diaspora in the Dynamic ASEAN-India Partnership".

In Singapore, she will also have bilateral meetings with Singaporen leaders.

The regional PBD will cover a wide range of sectors including political, economic and investment relations, tourism and culture, connectivity and start-ups.

Persons of Indian Origins from all ASEAN countries, including ministers, eminent personalities, business and socio-political leaders are expected to participate in the event, the MEA said.

"On all three legs of her visit, the external affairs minister will share with her interlocutors relevant information about the forthcoming ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit which marks 25 years since the establishment of dialogue partnership between Indian and ASEAN," the MEA said.

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