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Dr. S. Jaishankar discusses bilateral ties with Thailand, New Zealand counterparts

Ministerial talks of the regional forums of ASEAN (ARF), Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) and East Asia Summit 2019

India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar on August 1, met with his Thailand and New Zealand counterparts separately in Bangkok and discussed a host of key issues, including Indo-Pacific and maritime partnership. Further, The 26th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), in the afternoon of August 2, will focus on the joint programmes and activities of the member states and organisations to foster a habit of cooperation and build strategic trust in the region.

Significantly, Dr Jaishankar is in the Thailand capital (Bangkok) to attend a number of conferences, including the ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting, the 9th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meeting, the 26th ASEAN Regional Forum and the 10th Mekong Ganga Cooperation Ministerial Meeting etc..

After the ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers Meeting on Aug 1, The Minister said that, “Had substantive discussions on furthering ASEAN-India strategic partnership in the Indo-Pacific with a special emphasis on sustainability, connectivity & maritime cooperation. Congratulated Thailand again on its ASEAN Chairmanship”.

Further, “Off to an early start. Warm meeting with ASEAN Chair and India Country Coordinator, Foreign Minister of Thailand Don Pramudwinai. Discussed expanding our maritime partnership”. The Minister asserted.

According to Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, The meeting will review the progress of the decisions reached at the Informal ASEAN-India Breakfast Summit held in Singapore on November 15 last year as also the progress in the implementation of the ASEAN-India Plan of Action (2016-2020).

The Minister also discussed issues related to Indo-Pacific region with New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters. “Very cordial meeting with Deputy PM & Foreign Minister of New Zealand Winston peters. Good conversation on our shared Indo-Pacific approach. Agreed to upgrade economic and political ties,” he added after the meeting.

The ministers will discuss the progress on the Manila Plan of Action (2018-2022) in implementing the Phnom Penh Declaration on the East Asia Summit (EAS) Development Initiative, adopted by the EAS leaders in 2012. The ministers will also deliberate on the current regional and international issues and on further strengthening of the EAS as the region’s prominent leaders-led forum for discussions on global political-security and economic issues.

Following the official source here, Under the ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum) rubric, India and Myanmar had organised a field-training exercise on military medicine in Lucknow in March for the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus countries. Both at the EAS and the ARF, the external affairs minister will enumerate India’s Indo-Pacific vision, which was elaborated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore in June 2018, As per the Ministry of External Affairs asserted.

In 2015, ASEAN leaders welcomed India’s “Act East Policy”, The volume of two-way trade between ASEAN countries and India was recorded at $60.05 billion in 2016. Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from India to ASEAN increased by 9.4 per cent from $0.96 billion in 2015 to $1.05 billion in 2016, PTI added.

Despite all of this, The meeting will review the practical cooperation under the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) framework, adopt the MGC Plan of Action (2019-2022), and also discuss the various commemorative activities planned next year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the MGC, which is the oldest sub-regional cooperation framework set up by the Mekong countries – Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – with any external partner. The 9th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meeting, to be held on August 2, will discuss the preparations for the East Asia Summit (EAS), scheduled to be held in Bangkok on November 4.

ASEAN: The Association of South East Asian Nations was established on August 8, 1968 with the aim to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region.

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