Philip­pines visit sym­bol­ises In­dia’s com­mit­ment to Asean: PM Modi

Boost­ing trade and con­nec­tiv­ity will be among the key pri­or­i­ties of the Prime Min­is­ter’s visit.

The Sunday Guardian - - & Comment Analysis - IANS

NEW DELHI: Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi on Satur­day said his visit to the Philip­pines for the 15th In­dia-Asean Sum­mit, the 12th East Asia Sum­mit and his bi­lat­eral meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, sym­bol­ises In­dia’s com­mit­ment to con­tinue deep­en­ing its ties with South­east Asia and the Indo-Pa­cific re­gion.

In a state­ment ahead of his de­par­ture on Sun­day for a three-day visit to the Philip­pines, Modi said it will be his first bi­lat­eral visit to the Asean mem­ber state.

He said his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the two sum­mits sym­bol­ises In­dia’s com­mit­ment to con­tinue deep­en­ing re­la­tion­ship with Asean mem­ber states, in par­tic­u­lar, and with the Indo-Pa­cific re­gion, in gen­eral, within the frame­work of the gov­ern­ment’s Act East Pol­icy.

The As­so­ci­a­tion of South East Asian Na­tions (Asean) com­prises Brunei, Cam­bo­dia, In­done­sia, Laos, Malaysia, Myan­mar, the Philip­pines, Sin­ga­pore, Thai­land and Viet­nam.

Modi said that be­sides the two sum­mits, he would also par­tic­i­pate in spe­cial cel­e­bra­tions of the 50th an­niver­sary of the for­ma­tion of the Asean, the pro­posed Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship ( RCEP) Lead­ers’ Meet­ing and an Asean Busi­ness and In­vest­ment Sum­mit.

RCEP is a pro­posed free trade agree­ment be­tween the 10 Asean mem­ber states and the six states with which the group­ing has free trade pacts - Aus­tralia, China, In­dia, Ja­pan, South Korea and New Zealand.

“The Asean Busi­ness and In­vest­ment Sum­mit will boost our close co­op­er­a­tion to fur­ther en­hance our trade ties with Asean mem­ber states, which con­sti­tutes a sig­nif­i­cant 10.85% of our over­all trade,” the Prime Min­is­ter said.

“Dur­ing my first visit to the Philip­pines, I look for­ward to have a bi­lat­eral meet­ing with Pres­i­dent of the Philip­pines Ro­drigo Duterte. I will also have in­ter­ac­tions with other Asean and East Asia Sum­mit lead­ers.”

Meet­ings with world lead­ers, in­clud­ing US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, who are at­tend­ing the EAS, are likely on the sum­mit side­lines.

Trump on Fri­day praised In­dia for achiev­ing “as­tound­ing” growth since open­ing its econ­omy and heaped praise on Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, say­ing he has been work­ing to bring the coun­try and its peo­ple to­gether.

Stat­ing that he looked for­ward to con­nect­ing with the In­dian com­mu­nity in Philip­pines, Modi said that he would also visit the In­ter­na­tional Rice Re­search In­sti­tute (IRRI) and Ma­havir Philip­pines Foun­da­tion Inc. (MPFI).

He said that the IRRI “through sci­en­tific re­search and de­vel­op­ment has de­vel­oped bet­ter qual­ity of rice seed and helped the global com­mu­nity in ad­dress­ing food scarcity is­sues”.

Stat­ing that a large num­ber of In­dian sci­en­tists are work­ing in IRRI, he said: “My cabi­net ap­proved on 12 July 2017, a pro­posal for IRRI to set up its South Asia Re­gional Cen­tre at Varanasi. This will be the first re­search cen­tre by IRRI out­side its head­quar­ters in the Philip­pines. The Varanasi cen­tre would help in­crease farm­ers’ in­come by en­hanc­ing and sup­port­ing rice pro­duc­tiv­ity, re­duc­ing cost of pro­duc­tion, value ad- di­tion, di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and en­hance­ment of farm­ers’ skills.”

As for his visit to the MPFI, he said that it would demon­strate In­dia’s sup­port for its ac­tiv­i­ties in dis­tribut­ing free pros­the­sis Jaipur Foot among the needy am­putees.

“Since its es­tab­lish­ment in 1989, MPFI has fit­ted nearly 15,000 am­putees in the Philip­pines with Jaipur Foot making them ca­pa­ble of liv­ing a new life,” he said, adding that the In­dian gov­ern­ment was making “a mod­est con­tri­bu­tion” to the foun­da­tion to sup­port its noble hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­tiv­i­ties.

“I am con­fi­dent that my visit to Manila will give a new boost to In­dia’s bi­lat­eral re­la­tions with the Philip­pines and also fur­ther strengthen the politico-se­cu­rity, eco­nomic and so­cio-cul­tural pil­lars of our en­gage­ment with Asean,” the Prime Min­is­ter added.

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