Ahead of his visit to Laos to attend the 14th India-Asean Summit and the 11th East Asia Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that southeast Asia is the key to the development of India’s Northeastern region.
"Asean is a key partner for our Act East Policy, which is vital for the economic development of our Northeastern region," Modi said in a pre-departure statement posted on his Facebook page.
Modi will be attending the annual India-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) annual summit on September 7 and the East Asia summit on September 8.
The India-Asean summit will be attended by the leaders of 10 southeast Asian nations – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand.
The East Asia summit will be attended by the leaders of the 10 Asean nations and those of India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the US and Russia.
"Our strategic partnership with Asean is also important for safeguarding and promoting our security interests and countering traditional and non-traditional security challenges in the region," Modi said in his Facebook post.
"East Asia Summit is the premier forum for discussions on the challenges and opportunities before the Asia Pacific region."
His statement assumes significance in the wake of his visit to Vietnam, India’s country coordinator for the Asean, on Friday and Saturday.
New Delhi elevated its relationship with Hanoi from Strategic Partnership to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership while announcing a $500-million defence credit line to the southeast Asian nation.
"Our ties with the countries of South East Asia are truly historic," Modi stated.
"Our engagement and approach can be best encapsulated in just one word – connectivity," he said.
After the NDA government turned the UPA government’s Look East Policy into Act East Policy, New Delhi has been working on a number of projects to improve connectivity with southeast Asia, the key projects being the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway and the Kaladan multi-modal transport project connecting the Sittwe port in Myanmar with Mizoram in Northeast India.
"We wish to enhance our physical and digital connectivity; to see greater people to people links; to strengthen our institutional linkages; and, to leverage the modern interconnected world for the mutual benefit of all our people," Modi said.
"During the visit, I will also have the opportunity to interact with the leaders of participating countries to discuss bilateral issues of mutual concern," he added.