Manmohan heads East to Bali and Singapore

November 16th, 2011 - 8:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) Taking forward India’s Look East policy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday heads to Indonesia, where he will attend the 9th India-Asean Summit and the 6th East Asia Summit, and the city state of Singapore for bilateral discussions.

During his four-day visit, the prime minister will meet US President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the Bali summits Nov 18. This will be the first time Manmohan Singh will be meeting the leaders since they visited India last year. New Delhi will be looking forward to building on its equations with both countries.

India also looks forward to working with Asean member states in a constructive, collaborative and productive manner.

Manmohan Singh would be taking stock of relations at the India-Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit, said Sanjay Singh, Secretary (East) in the ministry of external affairs. Mutuality of interests and connectivity will be on the anvil as India seeks to intensify collaboration.

The East Asia Summit, being held against the backdrop of the increasing importance of Asia in geopolitics, includes the US and Russia formally as members in Bali.

Attention is likely to swivel to Manmohan Singh’s discussions with China and the US.

Manmohan Singh and Wen, who will hold their first bilateral talks since the Chinese premier visited New Delhi last December, will discuss the entire gamut of bilateral issues, including the forthcoming boundary talks between their special representatives in New Delhi November-end, officials said.

Also on the table will be issues relating to trade and investment that have steadily gone up despite political differences over a host of issues, including the boundary dispute, stapled visas for residents of Jammu and Kashmir, and India’s oil deals with Vietnam in the disputed South China Sea.

Manmohan Singh holds talks with Obama the same day to discuss a host of issues, including fast-tracking their landmark nuclear deal.

Confirming the meeting, India Wednesday struck an upbeat note about the state of India-US relations.

“There has been significant process across a broad spectrum of bilateral relations,” Sanjay Singh told reporters here.

This will be the first meeting between the two leaders since Obama came on a state visit to India a year ago.

They are expected to give a push to the their nuclear deal that has languished due to Washington’s apprehensions about India’s civil nuclear liability regime which American nuclear companies find onerous.

Manmohan Singh is expected to assure Obama about his plan to place rules and procedures relating to the liability regime in the forthcoming winter session of parliament that begins Nov 22.

They will also discuss a cluster of international issues, including the festering Eurozone crisis, global terrorism, the East Asia regional architecture and climate change.

In Singapore, the second and final leg of the visit, Manmohan Singh will hold talks with President Tony Tan and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Singapore is India’s largest trade and investment partner in ASEAN. It has emerged as a key offshore hub for Indian corporates. The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement of 2005 is the first such pact India signed with any country.

National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and other officials will be accompanying the prime minister. Manmohan Singh returns home Sunday night.

(Minu Jain can be contacted at minu.jain@ians.in)

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