India, ASEAN discuss key challenges in ministerial meet in Cambodia

The ASEAN is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region. India and several other countries, including the U.S., China, Japan and Australia, are its dialogue partners.

Updated - August 04, 2022 08:28 pm IST

Published - August 04, 2022 07:18 pm IST - New Delhi

 External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar attends the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on August 4, 2022.

 External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar attends the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on August 4, 2022. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

India and the 10-nation grouping ASEAN have "strong convergence" on Indo-Pacific, combating the threat of terrorism and the developments in Ukraine and Myanmar, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said on Thursday.

Mr. Jaishankar made the comments after attending an India-ASEAN ministerial meeting in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

The external affairs minister also said that India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) also have similar views on connectivity projects, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and issues relating to cyber security.

"A productive ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers' Meeting at Phnom Penh. Thank Singapore FM @VivianBala and ASEAN colleagues for a good discussion. Strong convergence on Indo-Pacific, UNCLOS, Connectivity, Covid-19, Terrorism, Cyber Security, Ukraine and Myanmar," Mr. Jaishankar tweeted.

The external affairs minister said identified the digital domain, health, agriculture, education and green growth as the areas which drive the partnership between the two sides.

"Digital, health, agriculture education and green growth will drive our partnership. Act East unfolds steadily," he said in another tweet.

Singaporean foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan is the country coordinator for India in ASEAN.

It is learnt that the India-ASEAN foreign ministers' dialogue focused on overall developments in the Indo-Pacific region and ways to further expand ties against the backdrop of geopolitical developments, including the crisis in Ukraine.

The foreign ministers also discussed the situation in the South China Sea, a resource-rich region that has been witnessing increasing Chinese muscle-flexing.

It is learnt that the meeting also underlined the need to follow the principles of the UN Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in the South China Sea region.

The ASEAN is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region. India and several other countries, including the U.S., China, Japan and Australia, are its dialogue partners.

ASEAN-India dialogue relations started with the establishment of a sectoral partnership in 1992. This graduated to full dialogue partnership in December 1995 and summit level partnership in 2002.

The ties were elevated to a strategic partnership in 2012. The ASEAN is central to India's Act East Policy and its vision for the wider Indo-Pacific.

The ASEAN comprises Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei, the Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia and Myanmar. In June, India hosted the Special ASEAN-India foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi to mark the 30th anniversary of its relations with the grouping.

The developments in Sri Lanka and Myanmar figured prominently at the meeting in Phnom Penh.

Last month, Sri Lanka witnessed massive political turmoil following mass protests that forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country. Veteran leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as Sri Lanka's new president amid hopes for recovery from economic distress.

The western powers were anguished over the execution of four pro-democracy activists by Myanmar's military government last month.

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