India supports ASEAN's unity, centrality in free and open Indo-Pacific

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 05-08-2022 19:57 IST | Created: 05-08-2022 19:57 IST
India supports ASEAN's unity, centrality in free and open Indo-Pacific
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India supports the ASEAN's unity and centrality in a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific and both sides should look for greater cooperation in the region, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said.

In his remarks at the annual ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers' Meeting (AIFMM) in Phnom Penh on Thursday, Jaishankar highlighted the importance India places on the 10-nation grouping as an important pillar of regional, multilateral and global order.

A day after the meeting, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Friday that both sides deliberated on ways to elevate the ''ASEAN-India'' ties including by enhancing cooperation in areas of ''smart agriculture'', healthcare, new and renewable energy, digital inclusivity and fintech.

It said the ministers shared views on important regional and international issues of mutual interest and discussed preparations for the upcoming ASEAN-India summit.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region and India and several other countries including the US, China, Japan and Australia are its dialogue partners.

Cambodia is the current chair of ASEAN. The AIFMM, co-chaired by Jaishankar and his Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan, was attended by foreign ministers and representatives from other ASEAN member states.

In his remarks, Jaishankar also said that there is a strong convergence between ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and India's Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).

The external affairs minister appreciated the Cambodian chairship of ASEAN this year, under the theme 'ASEAN ACT: Addressing Challenges Together'.

''He highlighted the importance India places on ASEAN as an important pillar of regional, multilateral and global order. The external affairs minister reiterated India's support for ASEAN unity and centrality in a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific,'' the MEA said in a statement. ''Noting the strong convergence between ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) he called for greater cooperation between India and ASEAN in the Indo-Pacific,'' it said. The MEA said the ASEAN foreign ministers appreciated India's consistent support to ASEAN and looked forward to working together to further strengthen the relations.

It is learnt that the Ukraine crisis and its knock-on effects on food and energy security figured in the meeting.

The ASEAN-related ministerial meetings in Phnom Penh also included the 12th East Asia Summit foreign ministers' meeting and the 29th ASEAN Regional Forum Ministerial Meeting on Friday.

Saurabh Kumar, Secretary (East) in the MEA led the Indian delegation at these meetings. Apart from the ASEAN member states, East Asia Summit includes India, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Russia.

The East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers' meeting discussed ways and means to strengthen the leaders-led EAS platform to make it more responsive to emerging challenges. The MEA said the meeting exchanged views on the current regional and international developments and geo-political challenges as well as reviewed the preparations for a new EAS plan of action. Preparations for the upcoming 17th EAS summit scheduled in November 2022, were also discussed.

''The 29th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) exchanged views on international and regional issues, as well as the future direction of the ARF,'' the MEA said. It adopted two statements namely the ARF statement on promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the region through preventive measures, and the ARF statement on supporting the preservation of the Southeast Asia nuclear weapon-free zone (SEANWFZ). During the visit, Jaishankar also called on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and discussed bilateral and global issues of mutual interest. The external affairs minister also had bilateral interactions with his counterparts from Australia, Sri Lanka, US and Vietnam.

Prior to his visit to Phnom Penh, Jaishankar stopped at Siem Reap Wednesday where he visited the heritage sites of Ta Prohm temple and Angkor Wat temple. ''He examined the restoration and conservation work at these cultural heritage sites, by the Archaeological Survey of India,'' the MEA said.

Jaishankar also visited the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) Asian Traditional Textile Museum in Siem Reap which was set up by India along with Cambodia and other MGC partner countries and assured New Delhi's continued support to the project.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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