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Remarks by Prime Minister at the 14th ASEAN-India Summit in Vientiane, Lao PDR (September 08, 2016 )

September 08, 2016

Excellencies,

I am grateful to all of you for sharing your views on the nature, direction and priorities of our engagement. They show us the path ahead towards next steps in our strategic partnership.

Excellencies,


All three pillars of our partnership – security, economic and socio-cultural, have registered good progress. And, we need to build further on the strong foundations of our ties.

Excellencies,

ASEAN is at the core of efforts to address the traditional and non-traditional security challenges in the Asia Pacific region. The sea lanes of communications passing through this region are life lines of global trade. As such, they are directly linked to regional peace, prosperity and stability. Securing the seas is, therefore, a shared responsibility. On our part, India supports freedom of navigation, over-flight and unimpeded commerce, based on the principles of international law, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. And, we are ready to play our part in partnership with ASEAN. We are also willing to take concrete steps to enhance the scope of our cooperation in cyber security, de-radicalization and counter terrorism.

Excellencies,

Natural Disasters are a common challenge. Their management is our joint priority. We want to pursue an active agenda of engagement in this field. We will host the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in November. And, we are also ready to enhance cooperation in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Exercises, as well as in capacity building for disaster management personnel.

Excellencies,


The global economic growth trends remain uncertain and uneven. This was the dominant narrative at the recently concluded G-20. In contrast, the story of India-ASEAN engagement is of economic optimism. And, there is scope to expand and deepen our varied and vibrant economic engagement. For this, we should complete the ongoing review of ASEAN India Trade in Goods Agreement at an early date. We should also develop ASEAN-India network of Business Chambers to structure new commercial partnerships. On our part, we aim to operationalize early the Project Development Fund for CLMV countries. And, a balanced and ambitious Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will be a step in the right direction.

Excellencies,


Enhanced physical and digital connectivity between India and ASEAN could boost economic engagement, fuel commerce and investment, speed up development partnership, and strengthen people to people contacts. For this, India is committed to the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity. I propose the establishment of a Joint Task Force on Connectivity to carry forward the exploratory work on the extension of India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Seamless digital connectivity between India and Southeast Asia is our shared objective. For this, we have already shared several proposals, involving setting up of a regional high-capacity fibre-optic network, supplemented by a national rural broadband network and digital villages in remote areas.

I request you to consider these proposals, and use the 1 billion dollar Line of Credit that we have offered.

Excellencies,


India has been, and will remain, a reliable partner in your efforts to narrow the development gap.

We have set up Centres of Excellence in Software Development and Training in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, as well as Centres for English Language and IT Training.

We have also offered a range of other capacity building projects. Science and Technology is a crucial element of our developmental engagement. We welcome the concept of Inclusive Innovation Platform for utilization of the enhanced S&T Development Fund. We are working with Vietnam to establish the India-ASEAN ground station to provide Indian remote-sensing satellite data for the entire ASEAN region. As part of our commitment to an Asia-Pacific free of Malaria by 2030, I propose a Flagship ASEAN-India Programme for Combating Malaria.

In order to take all our development and capacity-building initiatives forward, I propose to enhance the ASEAN-India Fund with an additional grant of US$ 50 million.

Building on our shared heritage, we must also lay the foundation of our future cooperation. To this end, I propose to hold an India-ASEAN Youth Summit.

Excellencies,

Our civilizational ties are ancient and pervasive, yet largely undocumented. I propose to commission a project for mapping of Indian inscriptions along the Mekong river, as well as a project to capture the cultural symbols of our diversity. We will create an online resource centre, accessible to all our citizens. We would also like to host ASEAN as our Guest of Honour for the International Buddhist Conclave in October this year.

Excellencies,


Let me conclude by affirming that India's relationship with ASEAN is the foundation of our 'Act East Policy'. And, next year, we would celebrate twenty-fifth Anniversary of our partnership. The planned commemorative activities are ambitious, just as the promise and potential of our strategic engagement is immense. In India, you would find a ready and reliable partner, willing to march with you in step to fulfill this promise and realize its potential.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

 

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