VISAKHAPATNAM: Foreign affairs expert K. Kesavapany said on Wednesday India had a golden window of opportunity in the current decade to woo ASEAN and reinforce its positive image. He was delivering the inaugural address at a three-day international seminar on ‘India-Southeast Asia: Strategic convergence in the 21st century’. The event is being conducted by Centre for SAARC Studies, Andhra University with the sponsorship of the Ministry of External Affairs.
Mr. Kesavapany, Director of Institute of South East Asian Studies, Singapore, observed that one concrete action could be to quickly conclude ASEAN-India Foreign Trade Area (FTA), which had been overtaken by China-ASEAN FTA. “New Delhi should note that it is not the only great power cultivating ASEAN. There are others like China, Japan, South Korea, the US, Australia plus the EU and Russia.” Stating “we can’t predict future because none of us at this conference is a soothsayer,” he said “however, we can look at regional and global forces as they shape up and seek to understand the direction in which they are headed. What is clear, however, is that the centre of gravity of international affairs is shifting to the East.”
Former Ministry of External Affairs Secretary I.P. Khosla welcomed the efforts to expand dialogue and cooperation between India and Southeast Asia.
Vice-Chancellor L. Venugopal Reddy presided. B. Raman, former Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, A.N. Ram, former Secretary, External Affairs, T. Nirmal Devi, Director, Centre for SAARC Studies and others spoke.