Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan representing India at the 27th ASEAN Regional Forum | V. Muraleedharan | Twitter
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New Delhi: India and the 10-nation ASEAN on Saturday carried out a comprehensive review of their strategic partnership in a range of areas, including maritime cooperation, and adopted a new five-year plan of action to further boost overall ties.

The two sides also exchanged views on important regional and international developments and discussed ways to strengthen cooperation to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, at an ASEAN-India virtual meeting, officials said.

It was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Thai counterpart Don Pramudwinai. Foreign ministers of all ASEAN member countries attend the meeting, the Ministry of External Affairs said.

The 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (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 meeting took place at a time when China is expanding its military aggressiveness in the South China Sea and is locked in a bitter border row with India in eastern Ladakh. It is not immediately known whether these issues figured in the deliberations or not.

A number of ASEAN member countries are engaged in territorial disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea.

“The meeting reviewed the status of ASEAN-India strategic partnership in several areas including maritime cooperation, connectivity, education & capacity building and people-to-people contacts,” the MEA said.

It said the meeting also reviewed the progress in implementation of the ASEAN-India plan of action (2016-2020) and adopted a new plan of action for the next five years.

The plan of action provides for deepening cooperation in an array of areas including trade, investment and people-to-people contact.

“The meeting also reviewed the preparations for the upcoming 17th ASEAN-India summit and also the progress in the implementation of key decisions of the leaders of ASEAN member states and India arrived at the 16th ASEAN-India Summit held in Bangkok in November 2019 and the previous summits,” the MEA said.

It said the ministers discussed ways to strengthen cooperation to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and exchanged views on important regional and international developments.

The ties between India and ASEAN have been on an upswing.

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 USD 3.8 trillion.

Investment from ASEAN to Indian has been over USD 70 billion in the last 17 years accounting for more than 17 per cent of India’s total FDI.

ASEAN member countries are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.

Also read: World will never be same again, extent of destruction due to Covid unclear, says Jaishankar


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