New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended a warm welcome to heads of 10 member states of the ASEAN grouping to participate in the commemorative summit in India in January and also accompany him for the Republic Day parade.
For Modi, celebrating Republic Day has been about making a big statement at the world stage. This year, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was the Chief Guest at the Republic Day.
Since 2014, Modi has used the Republic day celebration as a diplomatic tool. Japanese premier Shinzo Abe, former US president Barack Obama, and former French president Francois Hollande have been invited in the past in the January 26 function.
Modi made the request during his opening speech at ASEAN Summit in Manila.
“I look forward to a befitting culmination of the commemorative year and receiving you at the India-ASEAN Special Commemorative Summit on 25 January 2018 in New Delhi,” he said.
Prime Minister Modi is in Manila to attend the 31st ASEAN summit. He is also the first Indian prime minister to visit the Philippines in over 36 years.
India signed four agreements with the Philippines, including one to step up cooperation in the defense sector, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila to boost bilateral ties.
Modi also expressed his interest in expanding cooperation with the Philippines in the renewable energy sector and welcomed the country to join the Solar Alliance. He also invited Duterte to visit India to take part in the 25th anniversary of India-ASEAN relations which will be celebrated next year.
Speaking at the summit he said, “ASEAN’s remarkable journey is indeed worthy of reflection as much as it is of celebration. On this historic occasion, I am confident that ASEAN will further resolve to work together with one vision, one identity and as one independent community. India’s Act East Policy is shaped around the ASEAN, and its centrality in the regional security architecture of the Indo-Pacific region is evident. Our wide-ranging agenda of cooperation under the 3rd ASEAN-India Plan of Action has progressed well covering the three crucial pillars of politico-security, economic and cultural partnership.”
Modi also emphasized on historical maritime links between India and ASEAN member states.
“Maritime links established thousands of years ago between India and ASEAN countries have enabled our trade relations in the past and we have to work closely to further strengthen them. India assures the ASEAN of its steady support towards achieving a rules-based regional security architecture that best attests to the region’s interests and its peaceful development.”
The defense relations between India and the Philippines revolve around maritime security, ship-building and mutual training exchanges between both the navies. Indian warships have also visited the Philippines every year since 2006.
Establishing better relations with its Southeast Asian neighbors has been a top priority for Prime Minister Modi. He has transformed India’s “Look East” policy into an “Act East.” This move has made a positive impact on bilateral relations with ASEAN member states, with an impetus on trade and investment.