New Delhi: Taking a dig at China, India said on Tuesday that its level of engagement with ASEAN was determined by the opportunities of cooperation and not influenced by any third country.
“Myanmar acts as a bridge with ASEAN countries which is why India has initiated the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project that includes the India-Myanmar-Thailand tri-lateral highway,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
This project will greatly benefit Indian farmers and traders to sell their products in Southeast Asian countries.
“Similarly, when India and ASEAN come together for cooperation it is because there is lot to cooperate. It is not because of any third country,” he said, without naming China.
Kumar said that India supports countries to have dialogue with each other to solve any problem instead of aggravating the issue, a comment seen as a reference to the South China Sea where ASEAN countries like Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines are engaged in a dispute with China.
Kumar also said that India and ASEAN are working to make the visa process for its citizens simpler.
“India will also launch 11 stamps in the coming days, commerating 25 years of relations between India and ASEAN,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited leaders of 10 South East Asian countries to attend the Republic Day celebrations as well as participate at a commemorative summit marking 25th anniversary of India-ASEAN ties.
In his address at the ASEAN-India Summit in Manila, PM Modi said he was looking forward to a “befitting culmination of the commemorative year and receiving you” at the India-ASEAN Special Commemorative Summit on January 25 next year in New Delhi.
The ties between India and ASEAN have been growing continuously, particularly in the areas of trade and investment.
The ASEAN region along with India together comprises 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 India has been over USD 70 billion in the last 17 years accounting for more than 17 per cent of India’s total FDI.
India’s investment in ASEAN during the same period has been more than USD 40 billion.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional organization comprising ten Southeast Asian states.
It is comprised of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.