• Saturday, June 15, 2024

ASIA

Right before G20 summit, Modi to make quick visit to Jakarta for ASEAN talks: Message to China?

The Indian prime minister will depart Delhi for Indonesia on the night of September 6 to hold talks with the ASEAN leaders and return on the late evening of September 7.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi (ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

A NEW initiative to boost India-ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) maritime security cooperation is likely to be unveiled when Indian prime minister Narendra Modi holds summit talks with the leaders of the 10-nation influential bloc in Jakarta in Indonesia on Thursday (7), people familiar with the matter said.

Modi will leave for the Indonesian capital city on Wednesday (6) night to attend the 20th ASEAN-India Summit and 18th East Asia Summit.

Indonesia is hosting the summits in its capacity as the current chair of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

ASEAN is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region, and India and several other countries including the US, China, Japan and Australia are its dialogue partners. Shoring up India’s trade and security ties with the ASEAN is likely to be the focus of Modi’s engagement with leaders of the bloc.

Saurabh Kumar, secretary (east) in India’s ministry of external affairs, said at a media briefing that Modi will review the progress in ASEAN-India relations and provide them further direction at the summit.

“The prime minister will depart Delhi on the night of September 6 and return on the late evening of September 7. Given that the G20 summit follows shortly after the ASEAN summit, it will be a short visit,” he said.

Asked whether the issue of China’s release of the so-called “new standard” map would figure in the summit talks, Kumar said, “It is difficult to anticipate what would be discussed when the leaders meet, but issues which are of mutual concern — regional and international– would all come up.”

China’s controversial map to come up at summit?

To another question on whether there is a possibility of consensus to reject the map on the issue at the ASEAN-India summit as a number of member countries of the grouping have already criticised China’s cartographic aggression, the senior official said he cannot anticipate what would come out of the discussions.

On August 28, Beijing released the 2023 edition of the “standard map of China” that includes Taiwan, the South China Sea, Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as Chinese territories. India has dismissed the ‘map’ and lodged a strong protest with China over it.

Anguished by China’s territorial claim over the South China Sea, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines have already rejected the claim. Kumar said New Delhi appreciates Indonesia for making adjustments to the ASEAN meeting schedule so as to facilitate the prime minister’s early return.

“This is a very short visit because the prime minister would be hosting the G20 summit and the effort is to participate in this important summit (ASEAN-India) and get back home as quickly as possible. So there would not be any bilateral (meeting) during the course of the visit,” Kumar said.

He said the ASEAN-India summit would be “special” since it is the first one after the elevation of the relationship between the two sides to a comprehensive strategic partnership last year. “India’s relations with ASEAN are the central pillar of our Act East policy as well as India’s vision for wider Indo-Pacific. India and ASEAN have a comprehensive engagement covering a wide array of areas,” Kumar said.

The members of ASEAN are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.

(With PTI inputs)

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