Prime Minister to embark on three-nation Asia tour on Sunday

Friday, October 22, 2010

NEW DELHI - Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh will undertake a three-nation official visit to Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam that begins this Sunday (Oct.24).

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao briefed reporters in the capital on Friday about the upcoming visit of the Prime Minister that will have a tight schedule following various meetings and programmes.

Talking to reporters, Nirupama Rao said as India enunciated its ‘Look East’ policy in 1992, the strategy was to qualitatively enchance synergies and civilizational linkages with the dynamic East and South East Asian region.

Over these past 18 years we have made visible progress in attaining these goals. There are dimensions to India that encapsulate an identity that is South Asian, that is South-east Asian, that is East Asian.

“India, is now a member of the East Asia Summit and holds annual Summit meetings with the ASEAN. Our relations with Japan stand transformed. The Indian economy is getting increasingly integrated with those of its East Asian partners,” said the Foreign Secretary adding Prime Minister Dr. Singh’s three-nation Asian tour is organically defined by this process.

Nirupama Rao informed reporters that Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh will first visit Japan for his Annual Summit with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. He arrives in Tokyo on the evening of October 24.

On Monday (October 25), the PM and his wife Gursharan Kaur will have an audience with their Majesties, The Emperor and Empress of Japan.

Dr. Singh, on the same evening, will hold extensive discussions with Prime Minister Naoto Kan both in restricted and delegation level sessions, on bilateral, regional and global issues.

Nirupama Rao said the Prime Ministers are expected to announce the conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement or, CEPA.

“The agreement signifies the economic alignment of two of the largest economies in Asia and would lead to a marked increase in our business and economic ties. CEPA is a win-win proposition for both our countries,” the Foreign Secretary stated.

She further said: “Prime Ministers Dr. Singh and Kan will also discuss Japanese involvement in major infrastructure development projects in India, such as the Dedicated Freight Corridor and Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. India continues to be the largest recipient of Japanese ODA, of which we are very appreciative.”

India-Japan consultations are expected to cover bilateral security cooperation that has been progressing well in the context and framework of the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation and the Action Plan on Security Cooperation signed last December in New Delhi, Nirupama Rao informed.

She said that High Technology Trade and Energy Cooperation including renewable and civil nuclear, are also subjects that are receiving high level attention.

India and Japan have a similar outlook on a host of regional and global issues, including UN reforms, regional integration within East Asia and the rejuvenation of Nalanda University.

“Fellow G-4 countries, we have been engaged with the comity of nations in ushering-in earliest expansion of UNSC, both in permanent and non-permanent categories,” Nirupama Rao said while adding that some important documents are likely to be signed.

Prime Minister Kan will also host a banquet in honour of Prime Minister Dr Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur.

Prime Minister will also meet a number of Japanese dignitaries including Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry, as well as, former Prime Ministers Mori, Abe and Fukuda, besides DPJ Secretary General and former FM Okada, informed Nirupama Rao.

She said, Dr. Singh will address a Business event organized by Nippon Keidanren. As such, PM will have a full program in Japan which will advance our Strategic and Global Partnership.

On the second leg of his tour, the Prime Minister will pay an official visit to Malaysia from 26 to 28 October, at the invitation of the Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak. The latter had earlier been on a State visit to India in January this year, said the Foreign Secretary.

Nirupama Rao said India and Malaysia have traditionally enjoyed close and friendly ties. “Malaysia is also home to one of our largest overseas Indian-origin communities of about 2.1 million, constituting 8% of the country’s population, besides some 150,000 skilled and semi-skilled Indian workers. Thousands of our students study in each other’s country. As such to enhance people to people ties, an Indian Cultural Centre was opened in Kuala Lumpur in February 2010,” she said.

Malaysia, Nirupama Rao said, is our second largest trading partner in the ASEAN region. Malaysian investors are increasingly viewing India as an attractive destination. Malaysian construction companies have a good presence in India and have already completed 52 construction projects worth 2.34 billion dollars. Thirty five more projects are in the pipeline.

“To give our economic engagement a strong impetus, the Prime Ministers are expected to announce the conclusion of negotiations on the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement or CECA.”

PM will have in-depth discussions with his counterpart on all facets of bilateral relations, as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest.

Both Prime Ministers will launch the CEOs’ Forum signaling their strong expectation that business and industry on both sides, will foster a closer and deeper economic engagement.

Dr. Singh will deliver the Khazanah Global Lecture 2010, pay a visit to ‘Little India’ and will attend an Indian community reception hosted by the High Commissioner.

“A number of agreements are likely to be signed during PM’s visit. India and Malaysia are striving to give a strategic orientation to their partnership and crafting broad based ties focusing on key sectors like IT, infrastructure, health and medicine, biotechnology and energy. Prime Minister’s visit will further this process,” Nirupama Rao informed.

Nirupama Rao said Prime Minister Dr. Singh will travel to Hanoi (Vietnam) on the third and final leg of his Asia tour, for participating in the 8th India-ASEAN Summit and 5th East Asia Summits on October 30, 2010.

The India-ASEAN Summit, Nirupama Rao said, will take place in the forenoon, when Prime Minister will hold discussions with his 10 ASEAN counterparts.

The Foreign Secretary said: “Our relationship has indeed come a long way. The India-ASEAN Trade-in-Goods Agreement became operational on 1st January, 2010. We expect to complete negotiations on the Trade in Services and Investment Agreement soon. To give a fillip to our economic engagement an India-ASEAN Trade Fair and Business Summit is planned at New Delhi in March, 2011.”

The India- ASEAN Plan of Action for 2010-15, is proposed to be adopted during the Summit. A series of events are also being contemplated next year leading to the first ever India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit in India in 2012, she informed.

Informing the reporters that the 5th East Asia Summit will also be held on October 30, Nirupama Rao informed that it would deliberate on the issues of (a) Energy, Environment, climate change and sustainable development (b) Financial Cooperation (c) Pandemics (d) Natural Disaster Mitigation (e) Education and (f) Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia (CEPEA) and Economic and Research Institute of ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).

“The leaders will also exchange views on regional and international issues and on the future cooperation in EAS. They are expected to invite US and Russia to attend EAS as the ‘Guest of the Host’ with formal entry at Summit level scheduled for 2011,” she stated.

Prime Minister would take this opportunity to, interalia, brief the East Asia Summit leaders on the Nalanda University Project, which is now ready to take-off after the acquisition of land and passage of the Nalanda University bill in Parliament, Nirupama Rao added.

The Foreign Secretary said the Summit would adopt the ‘Hanoi Declaration on the Commemoration of the Fifth Anniversary of the East Asia Summit’.

“All EAS leaders will also pay a courtesy call on President of Vietnam His Excellency Nguyen Minh Triet who will host a lunch in their honour,” she said. (ANI)

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