PM in Bali, wants stronger ties with ASEAN, Singapore

November 17th, 2011 - 6:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Bali, Nov 17 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in this Indonesian island Thursday to attend the 9th India-ASEAN summit and the 6th East Asia summit, hoping for stronger ties amid concerns relating to disaster management, maritime security and terrorism.

Before leaving for Bali and Singapore on the four-day visit, Manmohan Singh said in New Delhi that with a formal partnership with ASEAN now two decades old, India saw its ties with the forum as a key component of its Look East policy.

The prime minister said the East Asia Summit was the principal forum to devise an “open and inclusive architecture of regional cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region” that will now see the formal entry of US and Russia this year at the Bali Summit.

“Increasingly, political and security issues are becoming part of the East Asia Summit agenda. There are concerns among the countries of the region over issues relating to disaster management, maritime security, terrorism and other non-traditional threat to security,” he said.

In Bali, Manmohan Singh also hopes to hold bilateral talks with his host and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, US President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

He said New Delhi will host the India-ASEAN Summit for the first time next year to mark 20 years of dialogue partnership with the grouping that comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Stating that Singapore was a key partner for India, Manmohan Singh said: “India’s Look East policy started with our engagement with Singapore and that country has been among strong advocates of greater cooperation between South East Asia and India.”

He said Singapore was India’s largest trading partner among ASEAN nations and that the country particularly shared strong ties due to the vast and vibrant Indian diaspora, a strong student community of Indians and large representation of India Inc there.

“Singapore was the first country with which we signed a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement in 2005. Currently, we are in the process of a second review of this agreement to make it work better for both of us,” he said.

“I look forward to holding wide-ranging discussions with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and other distinguished leaders of Singapore on deepening our economic, trade, cultural and people-to-people relations,” he said.

The prime minister is scheduled to unveil a bust of Jawaharlal Nehru there.

The prime minister will be in Bali for two days before leaving Nov 19 for Singapore, where he will hold bilateral talks with the leadership there.

He returns home on the night of Nov 20.

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

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