India, Asean exchange greetings on 25th anniversary of partnership
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Philippines President and Chair of the Asean for 2017 Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Saturday exchanged greetings on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the dialogue partnership between India and the regional bloc, the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
In his message to Duterte, Modi said that "our shared bonds of heritage and culture are built on the foundation of strong people-to-people contacts nurtured through the millennia".
"It is in consonance with this that the theme of the 25 years celebrations has been selected as 'Shared Values, Common Destiny' reflecting our joint endeavour for a shared future defined by mutual cooperation, peace, progress and prosperity," he said.
"India's Act East Policy is a reflection of the importance we attach to our strategic partnership with Asean, of which we mark five years alongside 15 years of our summit-level partnership."
It was on January 28, 1992, at the Fourth Asean Summit in Singapore that a decision to establish a Sectoral Dialogue Partnership between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and India was made. The two sides became full dialogue partners in 1996, Summit partners in 2002 and Strategic Partners in 2012.
The 10 member states of Asean are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Modi stated that India greatly valued Asean's role as a proponent of peace, stability and prosperity in the region, and "reiterates its support to Asean centrality in regional affairs".
"Our economic partnership remains dynamic and urge Asean support for reaping the full benefits of the Asean-India Free Trade Area in goods, services and investment," he said.
"The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership could further strengthen cooperation and economic integration in our region if we are able to achieve an inclusive, comprehensive, balanced and mutually beneficial agreement, with equal ambition in goods, services and investment."
President Duterte, in his congratulatory message, praised the ground-breaking initiatives taken by India across the political-security, economic and socio-cultural pillars of the Asean-India strategic partnership for mutual benefit.
He noted that Asean-India relations have contributed to the maintenance of peace, stability and prosperity in the region, and that Asean looked forward to further invigorating trade and investment relations with India.
He expressed special appreciation for India's commitment of a $1-billion line of credit for connectivity with Asean as well as for undertaking initiatives for narrowing the development gap within Asean.
In separate messages, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Asean Secretary General Le Luong Minh also exchanged greetings to mark the occasion.
A series of events have been planned through the year to reflect the commemorative year's theme of "Shared Values, Common Destiny" to reflect the close cultural and civilisational links that India and Southeast Asia have enjoyed over two millennia.
In her message, Sushma Swaraj stated that the celebrations would span the political, economic, cultural and people-to-people domains and would include a special commemorative summit and a commemorative foreign ministers' meeting in India.
In addition, a youth summit, a business summit, CEOs forum, regional Indian diaspora meet, car rally, sailing expedition, conferences, public competitions and cultural festivals are also planned in India as well as in Asean countries.
Asean is India's fourth largest trading partner, accounting for 10.2 per cent of India's total trade. India is Asean's seventh largest trading partner.
Investment flows are also robust both ways, with Singapore being the principal hub for both inward and outward investment, according to the ministry statement.