P. S. Suryanarayana

China, India and Japan might soon play greater roles

SINGAPORE: India and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) "are of the view that a forward-looking approach is required" if the "East Asia Summit process" is to steer clear of controversies.

This has been indicated to The Hindu by diplomatic sources, after a meeting which ended in Laos on Friday between the ASEAN and Indian officials. The ASEAN was represented by its Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong and officials from each of the 10 member-states, while the Indian team was led by Rajiv Sikri, Secretary (East).

The next stage will be discussed at an ad hoc meeting in Malaysia in a few weeks time. They are the ASEAN, its "Plus Three" partners China, Japan, and South Korea and the other three partners India, Australia, and New Zealand. The emerging issues centre on the relative roles of the Plus Three, on one side, and the other three.

Shared vision

Mr. Ong noted, after the first EAS in Kuala Lumpur last December, that all the participants shared the vision of a pan-regional community. The move is aimed at harmonising the relative roles of the members to realising the vision.

While the ASEAN officials insist that the association will remain in the driving seat to promote the cause of a pan-regional community, a senior ASEAN political leader told The Hindu that the partners of the 10-member organisation, especially the bigger players such as China, India and Japan might soon play greater roles. The subjects discussed in Laos included counter-terrorism, a field in which New Delhi offered to share its expertise with the association.