Sushma tells Indian envoys to Act East and not just Look East
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today chaired a brain storming session of 15 Indian Heads of Mission in South East and East Asia here and directed them to Act East and not just Look East, as she discussed the foreign policy initiatives under the new BJP-led government.
Hanoi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today chaired a brain storming session of 15 Indian Heads of Mission in South East and East Asia here and directed them to Act East and not just Look East, as she discussed the foreign policy initiatives under the new BJP-led government.
The meeting deliberated on the security structure in the strategically-important region, Chinese presence and the scope of India's growth, official sources said.
The issue of the contentious South China Sea was also deliberated upon besides the US approach to the region.
This is the second Heads of Mission meeting that she has called for since assuming office in May. She held a similar session with Heads of Mission from the Middle East in Delhi.
Official sources said the meeting is a way to chart out the future roadmap and to get a frank assessment about the Indian foreign policy in the region and its potential.
The issue of connectivity and commercial growth was also discussed besides the Indian diaspora based in the region.
"The meeting will give the Minister a first-hand knowledge about the activities of Indian missions, the challenges and the future prospects in the region," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
The day-long meeting is also looking at possibility of extending India's soft power in the region, especially by creating cultural linkages through Buddhism.
Sources said the aspirations that the countries in the region have from India was also discussed besides brainstorming how well India can meet those.
They said the new BJP-led government is keen to establish friendly and cultural ties with the countries in the region.
Swaraj, who is here on a bilateral visit, has stressed on the need for an 'Act East Policy' that she said should replace India's over two decade-old 'Look East Policy'.
"She told the envoys that we must Act East and not just Look East," Akbaruddin said.
At the beginning of her three-day visit to Vietnam, which ends today, Akbaruddin had said her trip to Vietnam was part of the Act East Policy.
"She has said it is not enough to Look East but Act East. This is Act East in action. We began with the focus on neighbourhood and this has now moved on with focus on ASEAN. Our Prime Minister is going to Japan, so it further moves eastwards," Akbaruddin had said.
India is keen to boost its ties in the region especially with ASEAN. Stressing on the need for strong connectivity within ASEAN, Swaraj has said that there is a need to look at a more "functional visa regime" in the grouping.
She said the new government in India was a strong believer in a participative approach to bring together the members of the strategic community, the Industry, the experts and professionals and the youth in India and ASEAN countries to further the common agenda of development, progress and prosperity.