Manila: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Manila on Sunday, on a three-day visit to attend the ASEAN-India and East Asia summits, where he is likely to reassert India’s push for crafting a global approach to deal with growing challenge of terrorism and radicalisation besides pitching for steps to boost regional trade.
The thorny issue of China’s aggressive military manoeuvre in the disputed the South China Sea, North Korea’s nuclear missile tests and overall security architecture in the region will come up for discussion during the ASEAN summit on Tuesday, diplomats said.
On the sidelines of the main events, Prime Minister Modi is likely to have a series of bilateral meetings with a number of leaders including US President Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Russian Premier Dmitry Medvedev.
A host of leaders including Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have already arrived in the city to attend deliberations at the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asia Nations), a grouping of 10 influential countries.The ties between India and ASEAN have been on an upswing in the last few years with the focus being on ramping up cooperation in the areas of trade and investment as well as security and defence.
“Every single country in the ASEAN region wants India to be more engaged in the region in every possible way. That is the real synergy we have with ASEAN,” Indian Ambassador to Philippines Jaideep Mazumdar told PTI.
The US, France and Japan have been pitching for a larger role by India in the strategically key Indo-Pacific region where China has been trying to increase its military presence.
Majumdar said terrorism is going to be one of the issues that will be discussed not only during the ASEAN summit but also at the East Asia summit. He said several documents are going to be adopted with an aim to contain terrorism including one on stopping money laundering for the purpose of terrorism.
While ASEAN summit is likely to focus more on trade and investment-related issues, leaders at the East Asia Summit are expected to delve deep into issues relating to maritime security, terrorism, non-proliferation and migration.
Apart from the 10 ASEAN Member states, East Asia Summit includes India, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Russia.
Modi will address the ASEAN-India and East Asia summits on Tuesday. He would also take part in special celebrations of the 50th anniversary of ASEAN.
The ASEAN region along with India together comprises a combined population of 1.85 billion people, which is one-fourth of the global population and their combined GDP has been estimated at over USD 3.8 trillion.
Investment from ASEAN to India has been over USD 70 billion in the last 17 years accounting for more than 17 percent of India’s total FDI. India’s investment in ASEAN during the same period has been more than USD 40 billion.
India’s proposal to host an international conference on countering radicalisation may also be discussed during the deliberations at Manila as New Delhi is now looking at finalising the dates for the conclave.
Prime Minister Modi will also participate in the ASEAN business and investment summit as well as a meeting of leaders of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
The RCEP, comprising 10-member ASEAN bloc and six other countries – India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand – is engaged in negotiations for a free trade pact.
In his maiden visit to the Philippines as the prime minister, Modi will also attend a reception by the Indian community and visit the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Mahavir Philippines Foundation. (PTI)