Vientiane: Maritime security, terrorism, economic and socio-cultural cooperation will be on the agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 14th ASEAN-India Summit and the 11th East Asia Summit here in the Laotian capital.
Bilateral meetings with fellow world leaders to discuss key issues are also included in the schedule of Prime Minister Modi, who arrives here on Wednesday to attend the two Summits - both of which are scheduled for Thursday. The Summits will be attended by Heads of State/Government of the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN) and 18 East Asia Summit Participating Countries respectively.
At the East Asia Summit, leaders will discuss matters of regional and international interests including maritime security, terrorism, non-proliferation and migration.
The Summit comes at a time when China is flexing its muscle to tighten its grip over the disputed South China Sea.
China is involved in a raging dispute with the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei over ownership of territory in the SCS, a busy waterway through which India's 50 per cent trade passes.
China has also objected in the past to India's Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) undertaking exploration at the invitation of Vietnam in the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in undersea deposits of oil and gas.
India and the US have been calling for freedom of passage in the international waters, much to the discomfort to Beijing, whose claim over South China Sea was recently struck down by an international tribunal in favour of the Philippines. On the sidelines of the Summits, the prime minister will also hold bilateral meetings with several world leaders.
India's engagement with the ASEAN and wider Asia-Pacific region has acquired further momentum following the enunciation of the Act-East Policy by Modi at the 12th ASEAN-India Summit and 9th East Asia Summit in Myanmar in November 2014. 2017 will mark 25 years of India's dialogue partnership with ASEAN, and several commemorative activities will also be announced by Modi to celebrate the occasion.
ASEAN is a strategic partner of India since 2012.
India and ASEAN have 30 dialogue mechanisms which meet regularly, including a Summit and 7 Ministerial meetings in Foreign Affairs, Commerce, Tourism, Agriculture, Environment, Renewable Energy and Telecommunications. Trade between India and ASEAN stood at $65.04 billion in 2015-16 and comprises 10.12 per cent of India's total trade with the world.
The ASEAN-India economic integration process has got a fillip with the creation of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area in July 2015, following the entry of the ASEAN-India Trade in Services and Investment Agreements. The East Asia Summit is an exclusive club of leaders-led forum in the Asia-Pacific.
Since its inception in 2005, it has played a significant role in the strategic, geopolitical and economic evolution of East Asia.
Apart from the 10 ASEAN member states, East Asia Summit includes India, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Russia. India is a founding member of the
East Asia Summit.