Time for ASEAN, India to elevate ties: FM Son

Friday, 2022-06-17 10:43:43
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Delegates at the meeting pose for a group photo. (Photo: VNA)
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NDO/VNA – It is time for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and India to elevate their strategic partnership and comprehensive cooperation to a new height, for peace, security and prosperity in the region and the world, Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son said at the Special ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi on June 16.

The two sides should uphold their shared values, promote dialogues, cooperation and trust building, and work to limit differences and conflicts, the minister suggested.

Stressing the great potential of both sides, Son said they should increase mutual support in improving medical capacity and implementing the bilateral free trade agreement, while expanding collaboration in digital transformation, innovation and regional development, including the Mekong-Ganga cooperation.

He spoke highly of India’s support for ASEAN’s stance on the East Sea/South China Sea, and called on the nation to further back the grouping’s efforts in turning the sea into peaceful, stable, cooperative, and environmentally friendly waters.

The Special ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting marks the 30th anniversary of the partnership between the two sides (1992-2022), during which Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar affirmed that ASEAN is an important pillar in India’s Act East Policy and its foreign policy at large, and is the centre of the South Asian country’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).

India supports ASEAN’s centrality in the evolving regional architecture, attaches importance to its neighbourliness with the bloc, and wishes to advance the relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

The ASEAN ministers, for their part, shared their view on progress in the relations over the past three decades, saying India is now ASEAN’s seventh biggest trade partner with two-way trade revenue up nearly 23 times in the past 30 years.

They agreed to enhance the ASEAN-India relationship, effectively contributing to regional peace, security and stability, by effectively implementing the 2021 ASEAN-India Joint Statement on Cooperation on the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific for Peace, Stability, and Prosperity in the Region and the 2021-2025 Plan of Action to Implement the ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity.

They will also utilise the ASEAN-India market with a combined population of nearly 2 billion and total GDP of some 6 trillion USD.

ASEAN will also talk with India over the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership that should be practical, effective and mutually beneficial, the ministers noted.

The two sides consented to further prioritise recovery, improve medical capacity, and step up sustainable maritime cooperation and collaboration in the fight against terrorism, transnational crime and extreme violence.

They will foster economic and trade links to soon bring the two-way trade value to 200 billion USD, and intensify digital connectivity, as well as cultural, tourism and people-to-people exchanges.

They concurred to soon resume talks on the building of an air transport agreement, and beef up cooperation in other spheres like science-technology, digital transformation, energy, climate change response, and green, sustainable development.

Regarding regional and international issues, the two sides agreed to continue coordination in maintaining peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea.

India supports ASEAN to promote dialogues, build trust, and fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and establish a substantive, effective and efficient Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in line with international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS), Minister Jaishankar said.

He also affirmed India’s further support for ASEAN’s role and efforts in helping Myanmar to seek solutions to stabilise its situation.

ASEAN groups 10 countries namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.