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Opening Remarks by Minister of State for External Affairs Dr. V.K. Singh at the 14th ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Vientiane (July 25, 2016)

July 25, 2016

Your Excellency, Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam
Your Excellency, Hon’ble Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng
Your Excellency, Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand
Your Excellency, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor & Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar
Your Excellency, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore
Your Excellency, Mr. Le Luong Minh, Secretary General of ASEAN
Distinguished leaders of delegations from Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, and Cambodia

Ladies & Gentlemen,

  • It is my pleasure to attend the ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers meeting today, for the second time, to renew the close bond of friendship that we have developed over the years. On this occasion, I would like to thank the Government of Lao PDR for the excellent arrangements and warm hospitality extended to me and my delegation. I am especially delighted to visit the beautiful city of Vientiane, a heritage city with historical cultural links with India. I would also like to compliment Vietnam for its able stewardship of ASEAN-India relations as county coordinator.
  • The ASEAN-India strategic partnership is not just about shared civilizational heritage or the historically inter-connected geographic space or the synergy and diversity amongst ASEAN and India in economic and human resource development terms but increasingly about the strategic fundamentals of economic growth and prosperity, peace and stability.
  • India’s relationship with ASEAN has steadily evolved from a Sectoral Partner of ASEAN in 1992, a Dialogue Partner in 1996, a Summit-level Partner in 2002 to a Strategic Partnership in December 2012. As a natural corollary to the growing ASEAN-India engagement, we are going to commemorate, in a befitting manner, 25 years of our dialogue relationship in 2017. In this evolving journey, I look forward to working with all of you more closely to bring new dimensions and depth to our strategic partnership for the peace, progress and prosperity of our region.
  • Significant developments in the economic sphere, notably the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community, the coming into force of the ASEAN India Free Trade Area and ongoing negotiations for a balanced and ambitious Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, have opened avenues leading to the potential creation of an India-ASEAN economic community.
  • The ASEAN India Plan of Action for the period 2016-2020 is widely encompassing and does justice to our shared goal to take the ASEAN-India strategic partnership to a qualitatively higher level. I welcome the joint prioritizing by our officials of the activities to be undertaken under the Plan of Action during the period 2016-18.
  • 2017 will be a landmark year in the ASEAN-India relationship. I am happy to note that both India and ASEAN have decided upon an array of commemorative activities to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our dialogue partnership and fifteen years of Summit level relationship in 2017. These activities would serve not only to strengthen and deepen our bonds but also enhance the visibility and public outreach of the ASEAN-India community.
  • A community can only be based on shared networks of connectivity. In this regard, I invite you to actively come forward with proposals to make use of the US $1 billion Line of Credit announced by Prime Minister Modi at the 13th ASEAN-India Summit in November 2015 in Kuala Lumpur. To realize the vision of digitally bonding ASEAN and India, we are sharing with you today some concept notes to establish an Optical Transmission Network; e-Networks to provide tele-education and tele-medicine; and provide GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation Services to ASEAN countries.
  • To further enhance our people to people connectivity and mutual understanding, I am also pleased to announce the institution of the India-ASEAN Goodwill Scholarships with effect from 2016. Ten students from ASEAN countries are presently in India, taking part in the International Summer School at Jawaharlal Nehru University and field experience in Rajasthan.
  • I shall also be inaugurating the ASEAN Studies Centre at the North Eastern Hill University in Shillong on 8 August 2016, to mark the 49th Anniversary of the creation of ASEAN. I urge participation of our ASEAN partners in these endeavours.
Thank you.
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