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Look East policy is showing results, says Manmohan Singh

Special Correspondent

ASEAN Summit “vital for enhanced engagement with region”

A cooperative framework to impact global ties expected

Summit may adopt declaration on climate change

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he would utilise his Singapore visit beginning on Tuesday to deepen and expand cooperation with East Asian states.

Apart from participating in the 10-member ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) and the 16-country East Asian Summit (EAS), Mr. Singh would hold bilateral meetings with Prime Ministers Wen Jiabao of China, Yasuo Fukuda of Japan, Badawi of Malaysia and Thein Sein of Myanmar.

Describing India’s ‘Look East’ policy as “blossoming and showing results on the ground,” Dr. Singh considered India’s participation in the India-ASEAN Summit and EAS to be its “essential pillars” and “vital for the qualitatively enhanced engagement which India seeks with the region.”

“Our trade with the ASEAN countries has grown rapidly, and surpassed our expectations. I will also attend the third East Asia Summit later in the afternoon of November 21. This summit is one of the most ambitious exercises of community building and integration ever attempted in Asia,” he said in a statement.With East Asia being home to some of the fastest growing economies of the world, Dr. Singh expected the creation of a cooperative framework to have a major impact on the global economy and international relations. “India’s role in the success of this enterprise is crucial.”

He also pointed out that ever since India became a sectoral dialogue partner of the ASEAN, its engagement with the regional group had grown manifold. “We are actively implementing the ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity. I will inform ASEAN leaders about the several initiatives that India has taken since the last Summit in Cebu in different areas of our cooperation.”

With bilateral trade now standing at $30 billion, India will discuss new measures to expand the cooperation to include not just greater economic integration, but also people-to-people contacts, science and technology, health, transport, human resource development, and information and communication technology.

Areas of cooperation

The East Asia Summit has identified five areas of cooperation — energy, education, finance, avian influenza and national disaster mitigation. India has already taken many initiatives and was ready to do more in these areas.

The summit is likely to adopt a Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment. It is also expected to discuss regional and international issues, and future directions for cooperation.

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