Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in the Vietnam capital on Thursday on the last leg of his three-nation tour.
Besides participating in the East-Asia and the ASEAN-India summit over the next two days, Dr. Singh will have an intensive set of bilateral meetings with Presidents or Prime Ministers of China, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore and Australia. Senior officials could engage with members of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's entourage ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to India early next month.
The Prime Minister will begin his engagements on Friday with a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao. The 30-minute engagement will see both leaders touching on several issues, including coordination at the November 11 G-20 summit in Seoul and climate change issues.
“As is always the case, there will be a lot of issues. India-China ties are maturing and evolving and the agenda will, as always, be rich and textured,” Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had said before Dr. Singh's departure for the three-nation tour.
Dr. Singh's next engagement will be with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. The stalled multi-billion dollar Posco project in Orissa, being opposed by civil society groups and the Left parties, is expected to figure in the discussions, said Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma.
“It has figured previously in discussions. It will be the biggest South Korean investment in India. Some issues have delayed the clearance and we have looked into it deeply. We will be able to reassure the South Korean leadership that investments will be encouraged and any outstanding issue will be addressed in a constructive manner,” Mr. Sharma said.
Dr. Singh will meet his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, on Saturday, just before the hour-long ASEAN-India summit, and is expected to discuss economic and security issues against the backdrop of the India-ASEAN free trade agreement in goods, which is expected to give a boost to bilateral trade.
He will have another bilateral, with Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong, this time before the East Asia Summit (EAS), a grouping of 10-member ASEAN and six nations of its extended neighbourhood — China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. The brief interaction will be against the backdrop of a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with Singapore and its space-cramped defence forces utilising Indian facilities for conducting practice.
The customary courtesy call on the host, Vietnam President Nguyen Minh Triet, will be followed by a meeting with the recently elected Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to touch on some of the several pending bilateral issues in the economic arena and the safety of Indians.
The ASEAN-India Summit will see the unveiling of a five-year action plan in tune with this year's theme of moving from “vision to action.” The Fifth East Asia Summit will discuss its expansion to include Russia and the U.S., a proposal India has wholeheartedly welcomed. It will also discuss seven other issues and adopt the “Hanoi Declaration.”