Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday referred to ASEAN ( Association of Southeast Asian Nations) as the centre of India's Act East Policy, and said that the friendship between India and ASEAN has been 'nurtured by our culture and civilisation.'
Addressing the plenary session of the ASEAN-India commemorative summit in New Delhi on Thursday, Modi said, “It is a privilege for India to host all ASEAN leaders for the second time. Our friendship has been nurtured by our culture, and our civilisation.
Referring to performances based on the Ramayana organised by cultural groups from the ASEAN counties on Wednesday, Modi said, "We have organised our Ramayana festival with members of ASEAN countries to showcase our common cultural treasure”.
The prime minister also thanked the ASEAN leaders for being ‘honoured’ guests at the Republic Day celebration.
“Your collective presence in India has touched the hearts of my 1.25 billion fellow Indians”, he said.
The leaders of 10 ASEAN countries namely Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Laos and Brunei will be the chief guests at the Republic Day parade.
Modi also said that India shares the ASEAN vision for rule based societies and values of peace.
“Our friendship has been nurtured by our shared culture and civilisation linkages. The Ramayana, the ancient India epic continues to be a valuable shared legacy in ASEAN & Indian subcontinent. Buddhism also binds us closely. Islam in many parts of South East Asia has a distinctive Indian connection going back several centuries”, he said.
While laying emphasis on the freedom of navigation in the maritime domain, Modi on said that security cooperation in this domain was the major focus of discussions with ASEAN leaders.
He also declared 2019 as the year to promote tourism, in order to build the "historical" bond between India and ASEAN countries. The prime minister also said that India was privileged to play a role in the conservation of temples and other historical monuments in Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Speaking on the completion of 25 years of India-ASEAN relations, the prime minister said that the fact that trade has increased 25 times in past 25 years, is an indication of growing partnership between the countries..
“Our trade has grown 25 times in 25 years. Investments are robust and growing. We will further enhance trade ties and work towards greater interaction among our business communities”.
Earlier in the day, Modi held bilateral talks with the prime ministers of Thailand and Singapore. Strengthening cooperation in strategic areas of trade, defence and security dominated the agenda.
On Wednesday, Modi had held separate bilateral meetings with Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Jan 25, 2018 19:50:20 IST