Major engagement with ASEAN through ‘Look East Policy’, says Khurshid

Onboard, Mar 5: The two-day economic summit in Myanmar proved fruitful for India as the nation involved in discussions on key issues with its neighbouring countries including Sri Lanka and Myanmar and strengthened ties with other Southeast Asian nations.

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh attended the Bay Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) in Myanmar, along with representatives from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.

Dr. Singh pushed the nation’s ‘Look East’ policy and urged his counterparts to explore ways to enhance connectivity, transport, trade and tourism between the north-eastern states.

While briefing the media on way back to India on Tuesday, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said that the policy made an impact on other countries.

“I think within the scheme of things as we look eastwards in our ‘Look East’ policy, we have now made major engagement impact as far as ASEAN is concerned in a variety of ways including economic, security and issues such as climate change,” said Khurshid.

Earlier during the meeting, Dr. Singh met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina to address issues that have been hampering relations.

Khurshid said that while discussing the Tamil fishermen issue with Rajapaksa, Dr. Singh was polite yet firm and clear on accountability on the matter.

“What we have requested detailed paper be made available to us. Obviously some information is in the public domain including on the website, but to give us more detailed paper for us to understand frankly on the ground what has happened and what is actually being done. And what is the timeline within which we can expect some more accountability, some devolution, and some more clear sense of authority in the northern province,” said Khurshid.

However, he said that the Sri Lankan president had been very understanding and had assured full support to India.

Dr. Singh also met Hasina and told her that a pact on the Teesta water sharing was a complex issue, although desirable.

Khurshid also said that Sri Lanka and Bangladesh thanked India for its help in their internal affairs.

“There is a commonality of concern in Bangladesh and in Sri Lanka and the commonality of concern is that they have sensitive, critical issues at home where they seek understanding and support and indeed have expressed, both countries have expressed their gratitude for support that we have given,” said Khurshid.

Speaking on Indo-China relations, Khurshid said that China is India’s competition but yet a partner nevertheless.

“We are not resentful of China, we can’t be. We believe China, India must have good relationship and we are working towards a good relationship; we have our differences on border but we have found a way of talking about our differences and very steadily and slowly moving forward to finding an ultimate solution to those differences. Meanwhile, our economic engagement must not stop,” he said. (ANI)