India, South Korea to align policies for southeast Asia

June 20, 2018 07:58 pm | Updated 07:58 pm IST

NEW DELHI: India and South Korea will align their policies for the region during the visit of South Korean President Moon Jae-in to India next month, a senior South Korean diplomat said on Wednesday.

“When President Moon visits New Delhi and holds summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they will link their own initiatives, Modi’s Act East policy and Moon’s New Southern policy. So it will be a very comprehensive one,” said Enna Park, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador for Public Diplomacy of South Korea. She was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a seminar organised by Observer Research Foundation.

Last November, Mr. Moon unveiled the “New Southern policy” aimed at deepening ties with southeast Asia as part of efforts to diversify trade. This complements the Modi Government’s Act East Policy of deepening strategic ties with southeast Asian nations.

Stating that the two countries were looking for expanding cooperation in security and defence industries, Ms. Enna said they expect the summit to produce substantial outcomes.

“There are many initiatives to be agreed to at the summit. We are expecting around 20 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) among other outcomes,” she told this newspaper.

As part of the deepening defence engagement, last year the two countries signed agreements to build artillery guns for the Indian Army and an inter-governmental MoU for defence industry co-operation in shipbuilding.

On the business environment in India for South Korean companies who have a major presence here, Ms. Enna said foreign companies need fair access to the market and want to see less regulation and the Indian government is working towards it.

“There are problems in ease of doing business. The speed is slow, they are complaining, but it is on the right track,” she stated.

Asked if South Korea would like to join the Quad comprising of India, Australia, Japan and the US, Ms. Enna said “may be in the future” and added, “Right now our military assets are focused on the security in the peninsula because our security in the peninsula is still very vulnerable.”

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