PM Modi to arrive in Manila later on Sunday for ASEAN summit

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and several other world leaders will arrive here tomorrow for the ASEAN summit which is set to extensively deliberate on evolving security challenges facing South East Asia.

Modi

The PM departed early Sunday for Manila.

The annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN), a grouping of 10 influential countries, is taking place amid China’s aggressive behaviour in the disputed South China Sea and North Korea’s nuclear missile tests and both these issues are likely to figure prominently during discussions among the leaders, a senior diplomat said here.

Prime Minister Modi will attend the 15th ASEAN-India summit and 12th East Asia summit on November 14 during which he is likely to reassert India’s call for crafting a coordinated global initiative in dealing with traditional and non-traditional threats facing the region.

The ties between India and ASEAN have been on an upswing in the last few years with 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.

Besides holding bilateral talks with Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte, Modi is expected to meet many leaders attending the two summits, including President Trump.

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev are among other prominent leaders who are scheduled to attend the East Asia Summit.

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, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the US.

In the ASEAN-India summit, both sides are expected to explore ways to further enhance trade and investment ties.

The ASEAN region along with India together comprises combined population of 1.85 billion people, which is one fourth of the global population and their combined GDP has been estimated to be 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 per cent of India’s total Foreign Direct Investment (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.