Vietnam pitches for India`s greater role in ASEAN
New Delhi: Notwithstanding China`s sensitivities, Vietnam on Friday pitched for India`s greater presence in South East Asia politically and economically.
Welcoming India`s commitment and engagement with ASEAN, Vietnam`s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said "we all want to see more of India`s presence in Southeast Asia, not only politically, but also economically."
"India", he said, "has a formidable presence in the Indo-Pacific by virtue of its size, its economy and its willingness to assume a greater role on the world stage".
Addressing a gathering at leading think-tank Indian Council of World Affairs, Binh Minh referred to territorial disputes between China and a number of countries straddling South China sea and East China sea and stressed on freedom of navigation in the area which Beijing views as its own backyard.
Binh Minh welcomed India`s stand opposing use of force to settle territorial disputes in the region and said East China sea, with its natural resources like oil and fisheries, is of "utmost importance" to "global commons" as is the sovereignty of countries in the region.
With a more active India in cooperation with ASEAN, "we can dream of a vast Indo-Pacific with strong linkages, efficient connectivity and after all, with shared prosperity and peace", he said.
He said India`s `Look East` policy has played a constructive role in ASEAN though security initiatives and economic cooperation and expressed the desire to work closely with it in tapping potentials between ASEAN and India.
"Between ASEAN and India, there are still potentials that need to be tapped and explored further. We need to work more closely together in inter-regional initiatives," said Binh Minh while addressing the seminar on `India-Vietnam Relations and Regional Issues`.
"The nexus between India`s Look East policy and Vietnam`s foreign policy of overall international integration provides much space for us to work together," he said.
The Foreign Minister said that ASEAN India Strategic Partnership for Peace and Shared Prosperity last year has brought our cooperation to a "new height".
India`s presence in Southeast Asia has become more visible in the fields of politics, economic, trade, defence, energy cooperation, he said.
"The statistics alone are impressive, the Free Trade Agreement on goods between India and ASEAN has created a linkage between two giant markets with 1.8 billion consumers and total GDP output of USD 3 trillion. Bilateral trade volume between India and ASEAN reached USD 80 billion in 2012," he pointed out.
As a responsible and proactive member of ASEAN, Vietnam stands ready to be at the forefront of the cooperation between the Association with India, he added.
Terming India as leading IT industry powerhouse in the world, he said Vietnam will choose IT as a foundation for new development model and look to India for help and support.
"I fully agree with proposals by Minister Kapil Sibal (who visited Vietnam last week) that Vietnam and India should set up joint ventures in IT, making full use of India`s advantage in software and Vietnam`s hardware products, he added.
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