Modi’s 5-day tour begins May 29, key pacts on agenda.
New Delhi: In order to further bolster ties with Asean nations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will embark on a five-day visit to Indonesia and Singapore from May 29 to June 2 during which he will deliver a keynote address at the prestigious Shangrila Dialogue in Singapore on June 1 on India’s role in the Indo-Pacific region. He will also speak on India’s “Sagar Mala” initiative.
According to this initiative, with an aim to “harness India’s 7,500 km long coastline, 14,500 km of potentially navigable waterways and strategic location on key international maritime trade routes, the Government of India has embarked on the ambitious Sagar Mala Programme which aims to promote port-led development in the country.” The concept of Sagar Mala was “approved by the Union Cabinet on 25th March 2015”.
The Prime Minister is also likely to sign key agreements in various sectors with both the nations.
This will be the first time that an Indian Prime Minister has been invited to present the keynote address at the renowned international conference that discusses security issues. Significantly, India will also be discussing important defence-related issues with both countries. This comes after top leaders from all 10 Asean nations had visited India this January for talks and to participate in India’s Republic Day celebrations.
It may be recalled that the Indo-Pacific region has been in the limelight, after initial talks between India, Australia, the US and Japan for maritime cooperation in what is referred to as the proposed Quadrilateral. The move was widely seen as one to counter China’s dominance south-east Asia.
PM Modi will first reach Indonesia, the country with world’s largest Muslim population, on May 29. Indonesia has age-old cultural links with India encompassing Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic influences.
Ministry of external affairs (MEA) secretary (East) Preeti Saran described Indonesia as India’s closest maritime neighbour, with a distance of just 90 nautical miles separating the territory of that country from India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands. She said Indian imports from Indonesia included coal and crude palm oil while exports comprised goods such as agricultural products including bovine meat.
Mr Modi will hold talks on May 30 with Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Later, he will meet members of the Indian community and also attend a CEOs forum. “There are some agreements under discussion in the area of defence-based science and technology that are still being negotiated,” Ms. Saran said.
The following day, on May 31, Mr Modi will reach Singapore. He will visit an India-Singapore Enterprise and Innovation Exhibition on technologies, including artificial intelligence.