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India for new initiatives with ASEAN on eco meltdown

Last Updated: Friday, October 23, 2009 - 12:15

New Delhi: India will make a strong pitch for new initiatives with ASEAN countries to collectively respond to challenges thrown up by the global economic meltdown and climate change during the two day India-ASEAN and East Asia Summits beginning in Thailand on Saturday.

In a statement before his departure for Bangkok, Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh today said he will discuss with ASEAN
leaders new initiatives to accelerate the process of
engagement in areas such as greater economic integration.

The other areas include agriculture, human resource
development, education, science and technology and information
and communications technology, he said.

The Thai beach resort of Hua Hin, known for its quiet
coastal villages, will host 16 Asia Pacific leaders to discuss
ways for increased economic and strategic engagement among

Leaders from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN), India, China, Japan, South Korea, New
Zealand and Australia would be attending the twin meets which
were twice postponed since December 2008 in the wake of
anti-government protests in Thailand.

Singh said he would be having bilateral meeting with his
Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao. The talks will take place
against the backdrop of war of words in recent weeks on
Arunachal Pradesh.

While China regards Arunachal Pradesh as a disputed
territory, India has maintained that the North Eastern state
is an integral part of the country. New Delhi lodged a strong
protest after China raised objections to Singh`s visit to the
state in the run up to the assembly polls there.

Singh will also be having separate meetings with his
counterparts from Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam
besides meeting Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

India`s enhanced engagement with the ASEAN was at the
heart of its `Look East` Policy, he said adding the conclusion
of the India-ASEAN Trade-in-Goods Agreement in August this
year was a major first step in its objective of creating an
India-ASEAN Regional Trade and Investment Area.

Noting that India-ASEAN trade has grown at a healthy rate
and stood at about 48 billion dollars last year, Singh said
the India-ASEAN Summit was an occasion to review the progress
in India`s relations with ASEAN countries.

He said he would inform ASEAN leaders about several
initiatives that India has taken to qualitatively enhance its
partnership in diverse areas of its cooperation.

The Prime Minister said the East Asia Summit on October 25
would provide an opportunity to discuss regional and
international issues of common interest and future direction
for community building and cooperation.

"Asia`s response to the global economic slowdown, food
security, energy security and climate change will be important
issues of discussion" besides reviewing cooperation in energy,
education, finance, avian influenza and national disaster
mitigation, he said.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, October 23, 2009 - 12:15
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