Excellency Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai,
Excellencies Foreign Ministers of ASEAN Member States.
I thank the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand for the excellent arrangements and warm hospitality extended to me and my delegation.
I would also like to congratulate you Mr. Co-Chair for what Thailand has done in concrete terms to further the vision of "Advancing Partnership for Sustainability” under its Chairmanship this year.
For India, ASEAN is a region of great importance. It is associated with a fundamental policy choice we made some decades ago.
It is not just an important ‘gateway’ into and out of the Indian Ocean region but also one of the most economically and politically dynamic regions of the world today.
We want to see a strong, unified and prosperous ASEAN playing a central role in the emerging dynamic of the Indo-Pacific as it contributes to India’s prosperity and security as well.
Given our Prime Minister’s enunciation at the Shangri La Dialogue in June 2018 of a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific, of which India is an important part, we warmly welcome ASEAN’s decision to articulate its own views of the concept. We see
important elements of convergence, especially from the standpoint of principles and approach. This provides us a road-map to advance ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly in the areas of maritime cooperation, connectivity
and achieving sustainable development goals. The ASEAN-led East Asia Summit format will remain our preferred platform to further discussions on this subject. In this context, my country would also greatly welcome ASEAN expanding its cooperation activities
with other regional formats in the Indian Ocean like IORA, and with sub-regional mechanisms such as BIMSTEC.
Engagement with ASEAN has been, and will remain, a critical element of India’s ‘Act East’ policy and strategy; Acting East is now also a means to implement our Indo-Pacific Outlook - that is its logical extrapolation.
India seeks greater ‘connected-ness’ with the ASEAN region. We envision connectivity with the region in very broad terms, including physical, economic, political connectivity and close contact at the people-to-people level.
The historic cultural, economic and political ties that have existed between India and the ASEAN region are the stepping stones to achieve the vision of a more ‘connected’ India and ASEAN region and a closer partnership.
It is these and other issues, Your Excellencies, that I wish to discuss today.
Thank you, Mr. Co-Chair and Excellencies.
August 01, 2019