Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Saturday embark on a three-day visit to Thailand to participate in the ASEAN, East Asia, and RCEP summits.
The Prime Minister’s engagements on the first day include his address to the Indian community living in the country and the release of a commemorative coin marking the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, as well as the release of a Thai translation of Tamil classic Tirukkural, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
On November 3, Modi will co-chair the 16th ASEAN-India summit with Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, on whose invitation he is visiting the country.
“The ASEAN-related summits are an integral part of our diplomatic calendar. This will be Prime Minister Modi’s seventh ASEAN-India summit and sixth East Asia Summit,” Ministry of External Affairs’ Secretary (East) Vijay Thakur Singh had said during a press briefing on Thursday.
“Last year, in January, you would recall that India had hosted the 25th-anniversary commemorative summit of Indo-ASEAN in which all the 10 ASEAN leaders had participated. Then, the Delhi Declaration was adopted wherein it was agreed to further strengthen and deepen the ASEAN-India strategic partnership,” she added.
The meeting will take stock of the progress made in the relationship between India and the ASEAN member countries. Several Indian initiatives are currently implemented in this regard, such as New Delhi’s commitment to offering 1,000 PhD scholarships to ASEAN students at the IITs.
The said initiative has a budget of about Rs 300 crores and is the largest human resource initiative for ASEAN member countries by India and for any of ASEAN’s dialogue partner.
It was unveiled and its implementation began in September this year when both External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and the Minister for Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal jointly launched this initiative.
India is also working on the establishment of centres for excellence in software development and training in the CMLV (Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam) under a budget of about USD 8.6 million. In addition, New Delhi is in close consultation with its ASEAN partners to identify specific projects under its USD 1 billion line of credit for its ASEAN country partners.
“Strengthening ASEAN and ASEAN-led mechanisms, enhancing connectivity, whether it is sea, land, air, digital, people-to-people, deepening our economic partnership, enhancing cooperation in the digital domain, including cybersecurity, and improving marine-time cooperation are some of the key themes of India-ASEAN cooperation,” Singh said.
On the following day, the Prime Minister will attend a special lunch hosted by the Thai Prime Minister for the leaders of the East Asian countries participating in the summit. The leaders on this platform will exchange views on progressing the global sustainable development agenda.
“The theme of this has been chosen by Thailand. In fact, Thailand, under its chairmanship, is promoting the themes advancing partnerships for sustainability. So, we are also working to support this theme and contributing to the discussions that are taking place,” Singh said.
Later in the day, the Prime Minister will take part in the 14th East Asia summit. The agenda of the meet would be to review the future direction of East Asia cooperation and exchange views on regional and international issues.
The member countries participating in the summit account for 54 per cent of the world’s population and 58 per cent of the world’s GDP.
“Much of the success of this platform is because of the central role that the ASEAN countries play. We acknowledge their role and always call for the centrality of the ASEAN in our Indo-Pacific approach,” Singh said.
Subsequently, Modi will take part in the RCEP summit, where the leaders of the member countries will review the state of negotiations which are ongoing in Bangkok currently and will continue over the next few days.
On the sidelines of the three summits, the Prime Minister will hold several bilaterals. He will return to New Delhi on the evening of November 4.
Ahead of the visit, Indian Ambassador to Thailand, Suchitra Durai said that New Delhi is keen to have a strong and unified ASEAN playing a central role in the emerging dynamic of the Indo-Pacific region.
“The ASEAN-India summit which will take place on November 3, will provide us the opportunity to take stock of the relationship and also to decide on the future areas of cooperation,” she told ANI on Friday.
“Prime Minister is leading the Indian delegation to 16th ASEAN-India summit in Thailand. ASEAN for us is a very important grouping. India would like to have strong and unified ASEAN playing a central role in the emerging dynamic of the Indo-Pacific region,” the envoy said.