Modi arrives in Laos to attend ASEAN, East Asia Summits

Hangzhou: Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the opening session of G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China on Sunday. PTI Photo by Vijay Verma (PTI9_4_2016_000103B)

VIENTIANE, Laos: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived here today in the Laotian capital to attend the ASEAN-India and the East Asia Summits to strengthen India’s trade and security ties with the strategic Southeast Asian region.

During his two-day visit, Modi is scheduled to have several bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Summits, beginning with an interaction with Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe today.

“Greetings Vientiane! PM @narendramodi arrives in Laos for a packed 2 days of diplomacy,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

The host nation, Laos will organize a gala dinner this evening for all heads of state. This will be followed by Modi’s bilateral talks with Laotian counterpart Thongloun Sisoulith.

The talks between the two leaders are likely to focus on terrorism, maritime security, disaster management, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

India has been seeking to join the exclusive 21-member APEC.

This is the third time that Modi is attending these two Summits.

“ASEAN is a key partner for our ‘Act East’ policy, which is vital for the economic development of our Northeastern region,” Modi had said in a statement in New Delhi ahead of the Summits.

East Asia Summit is the premier forum for discussions on the challenges and opportunities before the Asia Pacific region, he had said.

India is a founding member of the East Asia Summit.

Future directions under the three pillars of politico-security, economic and socio-cultural cooperation will be the focus of talks at the 14th ASEAN-India summit.

At the 11th East Asia Summit, leaders will discuss matters of regional and international interest and concerns including maritime security, terrorism, non-proliferation and irregular migration. . The Summits will be attended by Heads of State/Government of the 10 ASEAN and 18 East Asia Summit Participating Countries respectively.

India’s engagement with the ASEAN and wider Asia-Pacific region has acquired further momentum following the enunciation of the ‘Act-East Policy’ by Modi at the 12th ASEAN-India Summit and 9th East Asia Summit in Myanmar in November 2014.

The leaders will also exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest and concern.

2017 will mark 25 years of India’s dialogue partnership with ASEAN, and several commemorative activities will also be announced by Modi to celebrate the occasion.

ASEAN is a strategic partner of India since 2012.

India and ASEAN have 30 dialogue mechanisms which meet regularly.

Trade between India and ASEAN stood at USD 65.04 billion in 2015-16 and comprises 10.12 per cent of India’s total trade with the world.

The ASEAN-India economic integration process has got a fillip with the creation of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area in July 2015, following the entry into force of the ASEAN-India Trade in Services and Investment Agreements.

Apart from the 10 ASEAN Member states, East Asia Summit includes India, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Russia.–PTI

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