India calls for greater connectivity with ASEAN (Lead)March 4th, 2011 - 12:48 am ICT by IANS
New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) Pushing for greater connectivity in Southeast Asia, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Thursday said more linkages in the region will lead to “a dramatic flowering” of India’s relations with the 10-nation ASEAN.
“I believe that India and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) can do so by concentrating even greater efforts on physical connectivity. This aspect fits very well with our own domestic priority of upgrading infrastructure,” Krishna said, while inaugurating the third edition of the Delhi Dialogue here.
“If the two can proceed in tandem, it is possible that in the space of next five to seven years we will see a dramatic flowering of India-ASEAN relations,” he said.
“Connectivity will enhance the potential of merchandise trade and investment agreements that have been already put into effect or are on the anvil,” the minister stressed.
“Greater physical connectivity will reinforce intellectual inter-linkages that we have or will foster,” he said while alluding to the joint initiative for the revival of the ancient Nalanda University to come up in Bihar.
Underlining an inclusive vision of the region, Krishna said the Indian government has sought to embed in our developmental experience the principle of inclusivity.
“These principles need to form part of international efforts as that in the end it is the strongest factor for the maintenance of peace and security,” he said, ahead of the first ever India-ASEAN Summit New Delhi will host in 2012.
The two-day Delhi Dialogue, titled “Beyond the First Twenty Years of India-ASEAN Engagement” has been hosted by India’s external affairs ministry in partnership with the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
The dialogue has been supported by Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore, SAEA Group Research, Singapore and the Economic Research Institute of ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), Jakarta.
ASEAN secretary-general Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, in his keynote address at the meet, said India and ASEAN were today “a formidable force” as the new centre of growth in the world.
Calling the two as natural partners, Pitsuwan said India has traditionally traded, explored and sent cultural values and civilisation to East Asia.
“East Asia is now the centre of growth, not because everybody else was in trouble, but because we have transformed the way we do business, manage our growth and affairs. East Asia has become a new market place for the world. It is the new fulcrum of growth,” he said.
He said the ASEAN plus India, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan and South Korea were part of “an overarching, comprehensive and formidable” architecture for economic growth in terms of market, purchasing power and security issues.
Noting that the ASEAN and India could not afford to fail now, Pitsuwan said: “If we fail now, it will have far reaching impact and it will be globally felt.”
Brunei’s foreign affairs minister Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng, noting that the India-ASEAN plan for the five years from 2010 to 2015 should be to enhance their cooperation both strategically and economically. He called for the two sides to talk about food security and climate change, issues that are of global importance.
Thailand foreign minister Kasit Piromya, who also stressed on greater connectivity between India and East Asia, said it would lead to flow of economic activity and educational exchanges. Apart from a highway through India, Myanmar and Thailand, he also wanted the major port cities of the region to be connected.
Indonesian trade minister Mari Elka Pangestu wanted the free trade agreement between India and ASEAN to expand from the existing goods to investment and services.
Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) director-general Sudhir T. Devare, who welcomed the guests, said the Delhi Dialogue was an opportunity to “extend and expand” the mutual understanding and trust between India and ASEAN.
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Tags: asean relations, asean summit, association of southeast asian nations, chambers of commerce, chambers of commerce and industry, developmental experience, domestic priority, economic research institute, external affairs minister, external affairs ministry, first twenty years, indian chambers of commerce, institute of southeast asian studies, investment agreements, iseas singapore, nalanda university, physical connectivity, saea, southeast asian nations, southeast asian studies