Began Seri Begawan, Oct 9: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday arrived in Brunei’s capital on the first leg of his Southeast Asia trip to take part in the 11th India-Asean Summit and the 8th East Asian Summit.
India’s engagement with the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) and its 10 member-nations is the very essence of its Look East policy which has evolved into a comprehensive and multifaceted partnership between the two sides. Over the years, it has gone beyond the economic to acquire strategic content.
The India-ASEAN Summit in Brunei is the first since the relationship was elevated to a strategic partnership at a special commemorative summit in New Delhi last December.
In statement before leaving New Delhi, the prime minister said the summit would allow him and his ASEAN friends to ‘review’ the progress so far and ‘explore’ new initiatives to add further momentum and content to the partnership.
Officials said the ASEAN is ‘critical’ to India’s diplomatic forays in the Asia-Pacific region and as part of a new initiatives the government is planning to set up a separate ASEAN mission which will handle all the country’s ASEAN=related mechanisms and activities.
The prime minister will also take part in the East Asia Summit, which has emerged as foremost forum for promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the dynamic Asia Pacific region, where India has vital stakes.
India has been closely involved in the evolution of of an ‘open, balanced and inclusive’ regional security architecture on the basis of centrality of the ASEAN.
The prime minister said India saw the East Asia Summit as a ‘springboard’ to enhanced regional cooperation and integration.
India is participating in the negotiations for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership among the ASEAN and its FTA partners to create an economic community by 2015.
‘My visits to Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia will further intensify our engagement to our engagement to our East, which has been the forefront of our foreign policy, and contribute to peace, prosperity and stability in the Asia-Pacific,’ said the prime minister.
The East Asia Summit also supports India’s efforts to set up the Nalanda University in Bihar as a global education destination and talent hub. The university is scheduled to begin academic programmes next year.