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External Affairs Minister’s speech at the plenary session of the Second East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers Meeting

July 12, 2012

Mr. Chairman
Distinguished Colleagues


I would like to convey my gratitude to the Chairman for the excellent arrangements and kind hospitality extended to us. We are pleased that Cambodia, a country with which India enjoys very warm and friendly ties, is hosting the East Asia Summit (EAS) Ministerial Meeting.

At our first meeting last year, we all reiterated our support for the fundamentals of the East Asia Summit process. The relevance of the five core priority areas identified by EAS for our collective economic growth and development has become even more urgent. It is encouraging that we have begun to put in place the elements of a cooperative architecture in our region.

Mr. Chairman,

The East Asia Summit process has a great potential to bring synergy of effort to ensure peace, stability and economic prosperity in the region. We believe that in this era of global connectivity and economic inter-dependence, this can be achieved only if Asia strengthens itself in terms of economic growth, capacities and capabilities, all of which will enable it to contribute better to the global system. We continue to see ASEAN as the driving force in these processes.

Mr. Chairman,

We have seen useful progress at the 1st EAS Education Ministers Meeting in Yogyakarta on July 3-5, 2012. India has taken on 3 of the 13 projects recommended by the EAS Educational Task Force. On Nalanda University, I would like to inform that the Nalanda Mentor Group and the Governing Board held regular meetings. The University's website and logo have been launched. The University Statutes have been published in the Gazette of India. The University has appointed a Steering Committee to oversee the Global Design Competition. We would invite companies from EAS member States to participate in this competition.

To further intensify collaboration in the priority area of disaster management & relief, India would be hosting an EAS Conference on Building Regional Responses to Disaster Management in New Delhi from 16 to 17 September this year. We hope to bring together National Disaster Management Authorities in EAS member countries for sharing of expertise and experience, as well as to build capacities.

The ongoing global economic crisis and the Eurozone crisis, in particular, continue to be worrisome. It is imperative for the Asian engines of growth to come together to offset this. There should also be greater interaction and cooperation between our financial authorities. We welcome the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership initiative and we look forward to our engagement with the ASEAN countries on this.

Mr. Chairman,

As we prepare for the 7th EAS, we should examine specific projects for improving infrastructure in the wider region, in line with the Declaration on ASEAN Connectivity adopted at the last Summit. India would welcome dialogue with like-minded countries on this important area of cooperation.

We have recently agreed, at Myanmar's request, to undertake repair of 71 bridges on the Tamu-Kalewa Friendship Road and also upgrade the Kalewa-Yargi road segment to highway standard, thereby contributing to the connectivity from Moreh in India to Mae Sot in Thailand. We are also in discussion with Lao PDR on surface connectivity. Economic Research Institute of ASEAN and East Asia could be mandated to examine the economic feasibility of a few specific projects.

Asia needs a sustainable developmental architecture. I would like to suggest that integral to this would be greater focus on food security and energy security, including the use of energy efficiency technologies. These are, again, areas where East Asia Summit members bring complementary capacities, which I hope will be explored further in the EAS Energy Ministers Meeting to be held in Phnom Penh in September 2012. We must adopt a collaborative approach which transcends individual limitations on capacity.

We support Australia’s initiative for combating the emerging threat of drug resistant malaria and to improve cooperative approaches. There is an extreme urgency to this challenge beyond the greater Mekong region to all our countries.

The evolving asymmetric threats in the form of maritime terrorism, piracy and drug trafficking have made maritime security issues a strategic priority. We welcome the proposal for expansion of the ASEAN Maritime Forum. We are actively continuing our cooperation in the maritime area with ASEAN, ARF, ADMM+ members.

Excellencies, our collaborative agenda must reflect the East Asia Summit as not only the most comprehensive but also the most effective forum in the region, oriented to tangible outcomes, a futuristic vision and a dialogue process at a pace comfortable to all.

Thank you.

Phnom Penh
July 12, 2012

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