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October 9, 2013
New Delhi

PM’s statement prior to his departure for Brunei and Indonesia

I am proceeding today on a visit to Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia, two of our important partners in South East Asia. In Brunei, I will take part in the 11th India-ASEAN Summit and the 8th East Asian Summit. I will thereafter pay an official bilateral visit to Indonesia.

Our engagement with the ASEAN and its member countries is the cornerstone of our “Look East” policy and has evolved into a strong, comprehensive and multi-faceted partnership in recent years. It started with a strong economic emphasis, with focus on commerce and connectivity, but has increasingly acquired strategic content. The Summit in Brunei will be the first since the elevation of our relations with the ASEAN to a Strategic Partnership at the special Commemorative Summit in New Delhi and the conclusion of the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement in Services and Investment in December 2012.  It will give me and my ASEAN colleagues an opportunity to review the progress in our relations over the last few months and explore initiatives to add further momentum and content to our relationship.

The East Asia Summit is the foremost forum for promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the dynamic Asia Pacific region. Given our vital stakes in the region, India has been closely involved in the evolution of an open, balanced and inclusive regional architecture, on the basis of the centrality of the ASEAN. India sees the East Asia Summit as a springboard to regional cooperation and integration and is participating in the negotiations for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership among the ASEAN and its FTA partners, which will help create an economic community in the region. The Summit has been highly supportive of India’s initiative for the revival of the Nalanda University, which is slated to begin academic programmes next year.  On the margins of the East Asia Summit, I will have the opportunity to meet other world leaders.

My next destination, Indonesia, is not only a key ASEAN member and a country with growing regional and global profile, but also an important bilateral partner. India and Indonesia share centuries old people-to-people, cultural and spiritual ties. Today, we have extensive common interests as maritime neighbours and in the fields of economy, energy, security, space and development.

We see our ties with Indonesia as an essential part of India’s integration with the broader region. I intend to utilize this visit also to re-emphasize our commitment to building a stronger partnership with ASEAN. We will also have the opportunity to exchange views on regional and global issues of common interest.

It will be my effort to maintain the momentum in our comprehensive relations generated by the visit of President Yudhoyono to India as the Chief Guest at our Republic Day in 2011 and create an institutional framework to further enhance the content of our cooperation in the years ahead.

My visits to Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia will further intensify our engagement to our East, which has been at the forefront of our foreign policy, and contribute to peace, prosperity and stability in the Asia Pacific.