New Delhi, Feb.13 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Monday called on India and ASEAN to take their partnership in various sectors to the next level, while simultaneously facing and combating non-traditional and trans-national security challenges.
Addressing the fourth edition of the Delhi Dialogue here, Krishna said both India and ASEAN were commemorating a significant milestone in their robust economic and commercial partnership, and expressed his happiness at being given the opportunity to flag-off t the ASEAN-India Commemorative Year.
Dwelling on this year's Delhi Dialogue theme-"India and ASEAN: Partners for Peace, Progress and Stability", Krishna said that India's "Look East Policy" has been a function of the interconnectedness that his country has experienced over the centuries with ASEAN countries.
He said that both India and ASEAN shared common developmental and strategic interests, as also the processes of transformation and integration in the region.
Referring to the current global economic situation, he said: "It is in the common interest of India and ASEAN to work together to enhance the prospects for prosperity in our region. We need to secure our region as an area of growth, a region which is home to more than 1.7 billion people, around one-fourth of the global population."
Both India and ASEAN also needed to enhance connectivity through the realisation of routes such as the Mekong-India Economic Corridor, which would have a beneficial effect especially for the eastern part of India, he added.
"As we progress into the Asian Century, we must also take cognizance of the global economic and politico-security environment. This requires us to build and strengthen mechanisms for communication and consultation between our governments, corporate sectors and our people," the External Affairs Minister said.
He added: "Our policies need to, simultaneously, safeguard our high rates of growth, enhance trade in goods and services, bring together our collective resources for mutual benefit, connect our spaces institutionally, increase investments for growth and enable our people to interact freely."
On non-traditional and trans-national security challenges, Krishna said menaces like cross-border terrorism, money laundering, drug trafficking, energy security, food security, climate change, disaster relief and response, protecting sea lanes of communications, piracy, etc. needed to be dealt with firmly and through coordinated efforts and innovative approaches.
He further said that India and ASEAN have put in place one of the largest free trade agreements on goods, and added that efforts were underway for an early and meaningful agreement on services and investments.
"We have also agreed to a structured private sector engagement in the five areas of pharmaceuticals, innovation and skills training, information technology, manufacturing and infrastructure. All of these impact our capacities, our processes of development and growth," Krishna said.
Having given regularity to India-ASEAN Ministerial level meetings, the need of the hour was for enhanced cooperation in areas of environment, new and renewable energy, agriculture, micro, small and medium enterprises and space, " Krishna said, adding that such focus could easily sustain greater engagement between India and ASEAN.
He also said that the ASEAN-India Eminent Persons Group is in the process of finalizing an ASEAN-India Vision 2020 document, and added that the ASEAN Secretariat is helping to give final shape to the implementation of the 82-point Plan of Action worth about 40 million US dollars till 2015.
He said that India and ASEAN were examining how to enhance cooperation in Entrepreneurship Development Centres, English Language Training Centres, and Vocational Training Centres in the CLMV countries.
Bringing over a group of 20 ASEAN journalists to Delhi Dialogue IV has institutionalized the ASEAN-India Media Exchange Programme, he added.
"We look forward to the next batch of 20 ASEAN journalists coming to India in December 2012 at the time of the special ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit. ASEAN Member States would host forty Indian journalists over three years," Krishna said.
We need to give a fillip to greater physical connectivity between ASEAN and India, Krishna said.
He also expressed his happiness over India and ASEAN embarking on the ASEAN-India Car Rally 2012 to mark the Commemorative Year.
India, he said, is also sending a Sail Training Ship "Sudarshini" on an interactive expedition to all the ten ASEAN countries to trace traditional trade routes.
"These two events, together with their respective 'marker events' would no doubt reinforce connectivity between India and ASEAN," he concluded. (ANI)
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