Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said India focuses on enhancing all kinds of connectivity, including in social, digital and financial spheres, with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) grouping.
Addressing a virtual summit between India and the ASEAN, he said, “Enhancing every type of connectivity between India and ASEAN — physical, economic, social, digital, financial, maritime — is a major priority for us. In the last few years, we have come close to all these areas.”
He said a cohesive and responsive ASEAN is needed for security and growth for all in the region.
He further said there are many similarities between India’s “Indo Pacific Oceans Initiative” and ASEAN’s “Outlook on Indo Pacific”.
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.
The summit is taking place amid China’s aggressive behaviour in the disputed South China Sea as well as in eastern Ladakh. A number of ASEAN countries have territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.
Modi co-chaired the 17th India-ASEAN summit with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
The 10-member countries of ASEAN are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.
The ties between India and ASEAN have been gaining strength in the last few years with focus being on ramping up cooperation in the areas of trade and investment as well as security and defence.
The ASEAN region along with India together comprises a combined population of 1.85 billion people, which is one-fourth of the global population, and their combined GDP has been estimated at over $3.8 trillion.