Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday left on a four-day visit to Brunei and Indonesia during which he will attend ASEAN summit and hold talks on crucial bilateral and regional issues, including ways to enhance economic cooperation.
Ahead of his departure, Dr. Singh said his visits “will further intensify our engagement with East, which has been at the forefront of our foreign policy, and contribute to peace, prosperity and stability in the Asia Pacific“.
Terming Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia as two important partners in South East Asia, Dr. Singh said in his departure statement, “Our engagement with the ASEAN and its member countries is the cornerstone of our “Look East” policy and has evolved into a strong, comprehensive and multi-faceted partnership in recent years.”
In Brunei, he will take part in the 11th India-ASEAN Summit and the 8th East Asian Summit on Thursday, followed by a bilateral visit to Indonesia.
India is looking for greater economic ties and cooperation in areas of security, connectivity and culture with South-East Asian countries.
The visit assumes significance as India is looking to ink a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on services and investments by the end of 2013 with ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations), a ten-member block of countries, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.