PM to go to Indonesia, US seeks closer India ties in East Asia

July 21st, 2011 - 10:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will travel to Indonesia in November to attend the 18-nation East Asia Summit, a trip that will be closely watched by Washington which has pitched for a bigger role for New Delhi in the region with a view to countering China’s influence.

Manmohan Singh will participate in the summit in Bali where, besides the 10 ASEAN nations, China, Japan, South Korea, US, Russia, Australia and New Zealand will also participate.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna is currently in Bali for the ministerial meeting of the 27-nation ASEAN Regional Forum. He is expected to meet his counterparts from the East Asia region there in a bid to firm up the agenda for the forthcoming summit.

At the summit, Manmohan Singh is likely to meet US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The summit will take place against the backdrop of China’s increased assertiveness in South China Sea and in the larger East Asia region. India has denied any move to contain China. “We are seeking better ties with India,” well-placed sources said here.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who headed to Indonesia after wrapping up her three-day visit to India Thursday, is likely to unveil the US vision of the evolving architecture for the region Friday. China will be a subtext of what Clinton says.

In a speech in Chennai Wednesday, Clinton had pressed India to take a leadership role in the world, specially in East Asia, a region Beijing tends to regard as its strategic backyard.

Asking New Delhi “think and act East,” Clinton had underlined that India could build a leadership role in the Asia-Pacific in forums like the East Asia Summit and the Asian Regional Forum.

Clinton also said Obama looked forward to joining Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the East Asia summit.

She said the US wanted to work with India and “all of our friends, all our allies” to make the East Asia Summit into Asia Pacific’s premier forum for dealing with leading political and security issues.

She exhorted India to contribute more to maritime security, democracy promotion and “explore a new Silk Route” into Central Asia, support rebuilding Afghanistan and even help stabilise Pakistan.

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