My Distinguished Co-Chair, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai,
A very Good Afternoon to you all,
Let me start by conveying my sincere thanks to Thailand, our Country Coordinator, for their steadfast support and cooperation over the past three years in furthering the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership.
I also take this opportunity to welcome Singapore, our incoming Country Coordinator. We look forward to closely working with them especially as we embark on our journey with the new Plan of Action for 2021-2025.
The broader context, in which we approach our relationship today, as indeed anything else of significance is undeniably that of the Covid-19 crisis. We have noted how ASEAN members have purposefully responded to it, individually and collectively. These challenges have also brought ASEAN and India even closer, as we have extended practical support to each other during these times of stress. It is something we can discuss later.
Across the world, ASEAN is held up as a good example of successful regionalism, multilateralism and globalization. This year's theme of 'We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper' under the able chairmanship of Brunei succinctly captures the outlook of ASEAN. I am confident that this theme applies equally to our partnership as well.
It is also a testimony to the success of ASEAN that it is widely perceived as the foundation of the evolving strategic and economic architecture of the larger region. That ASEAN-led initiatives have established their salience across so many domains speaks for itself. India is committed to supporting a strong, unified and prosperous ASEAN, one whose centrality in the Indo-Pacific is fully appreciated. The strong convergence between the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and the Indo-Pacific Ocean’s Initiative (IPOI) proposed by India adds another dimension to our contemporary partnership.
India’s ties with the ASEAN are, of course, rooted in history and strengthened by proximity. Together, these are factors that can help us achieve a vision of a more ‘connected’ India and ASEAN. This will naturally require the realization of a dedicated set of initiatives which, of course, constitute the core of our collaborative agenda.
The year 2022 will be marking the 30th anniversary of our relations. We agreed to commemorate this important occasion by celebrating it as the ASEAN-India Friendship Year. Let’s work together to make this a grand success!
Once again I thank you, Mr. Co-Chair and dear colleagues.