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Asean leaders set to be chief guests at Republic Day parade

IANS | New Delhi |


Leaders of the Asean bloc are set to be the chief guests at the country’s main Republic Day event here on Friday in an unprecedented diplomatic move by India which normally invites only one leader for the glittering show.

Leaders of the 10 countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have arrived and were still arriving in New Delhi, officials said.

On Thursday, they will take part in a summit to mark 25 years of partnership between Asean and India.

On Friday, all 10 Asean leaders will be the chief guests at the Republic Day parade where India displays its military might and cultural diversity.

The Asean is made up of Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The two-day “Asean-India Commemorative Summit” will include the launch of postage stamps. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host a gala dinner for the visiting leaders after the summit.

There will be a retreat during which they will have a discussion under the theme of “Maritime Cooperation and Security”.

Modi has already held bilateral meetings with Myanmar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and the Prime Ministers of Thailand and Singapore Prayut Chan-ocha and Lee Hsien Loong.

Modi also met Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and will hold a bilateral with Indonesian President Joko Widodo later on Thursday.

He will meet Laos and Malaysian Prime Ministers Thongloun Sisoulith and Nazib Razak on Friday.

Asean was founded in 1967 and is India’s fourth biggest trade partner.