New Delhi: Even as the Association of South-east Asian Nations countries sought a greater role for India in the Asia-Pacific region during the just-concluded Asean-India Commemorative Summit in New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made two important initiatives for greater engagement with Asean.
The first is that India will organise a global conference on the issue of countering radicalisation which will draw heavily on the experiences of the Asean in this regard.
MEA secretary (east) Preeti Saran told reporters that India would host the global conference. “Terror-ism knows no borders... terrorism does not have a religion,” Ms Saran said.
The second initiative is an outreach to the youth in the ASEAN region, with India offering 1,000 PhD fellowships in the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). Mr Modi also continued to press for greater engagement with the ASEAN region, with an Op-ed written by him on Indo-ASEAN ties appearing in 27 newspapers in 10 languages in the 10 Asean countries.
The issue of efforts to counter radicalisation and extremism figured during separate bilateral meetings that the Prime Minister had with Indonesian President Joko Widodo late on Thursday evening and with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Friday.
The MEA — in response to a question — said the issue regarding Indian radical preacher Zakir Naik who is believed to be in Malaysia did not figure in the meeting.
Indonesia, Malaysia bilaterals a success
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted, ‘An important strategic partner! PM @narendramodi met with Malaysian Prime Minister @NajibRazak. Two leaders had an engaging discussion on defence and security, trade and investment, counter terrorism and people to people links.”
The MEA said that Mr Widodo had invited Mr Modi to visit Indonesia, an invitation which was accepted. Mr Modi also a bilateral meeting with Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.
Among other issues, the MEA said there was ongoing defence cooperation with Laos including capacity-building and that efforts were stepped up to increase this cooperation further. It may be recalled that India already has robust defence ties with Vietnam in the region....