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World Asia 08 Sep 2016 Modi, Laos PM hold b ...

Modi, Laos PM hold bilateral talks, discuss South China Sea issue

Published Sep 8, 2016, 10:35 am IST
Updated Sep 8, 2016, 10:50 am IST
In his address to ASEAN-India Summit, Modi called sea lanes as life lines of global trade and securing seas was a shared responsibility.
Narendra Modi with Laos' Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith prior to the start of the ASEAN-India summit in the ongoing 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits at the National Convention Center in Vientiane. (Photo: AP)
 Narendra Modi with Laos' Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith prior to the start of the ASEAN-India summit in the ongoing 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits at the National Convention Center in Vientiane. (Photo: AP)

Vientiane: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday held bilateral talks with his Laotian counterpart Thongloun Sisoulith and discussed regional developments including the South China Sea issue.

The two sides shared the same perspective on South China Sea, a foreign ministry spokesperson said.


In his address to the ASEAN-India Summit, Modi called sea lanes as "life lines of global trade" and said securing seas was a shared responsibility.

He added that India supports freedom of navigation based on United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The comments come amid China's muscle flexing in the disputed South China Sea and "emerging regional challenges" as Beijing is involved in a raging dispute with the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei over ownership of territory in the South China Sea (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 SCS, 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 SCS was recently struck down by an international tribunal in favour of the Philippines.

Modi, who is in Laos to attend the ASEAN-India and East Asia summits, held parleys with the Laos premier on the sidelines of the meetings.


Sisoulith said his country supported India as a permanent member of a reformed and expanded United Nations Security Council.

The two leaders agreed to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in a befitting manner.

Modi said he was especially happy to be in Vientiane at a time when India and Laos are celebrating the anniversary. He said India and Laos shared ancient linkages going back more than 2,000 years.

The Laotian premier appreciated India's consistent support to Laos, particularly in areas of human resources development, agriculture, irrigation and power.


Modi is scheduled to hold several bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Summits during his two-day visit, including with US President Barack Obama, South Korean president Park Geun-hye and Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung Sang Suu Kyi.

In his talks with Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe on Wednesday, India and Japan pledged to strengthen ties in the key areas of counterterrorism, civil nuclear cooperation, trade and investment.

Addressing the Summit for the third time, Modi said he was "delighted to renew close bonds of friendship" with ASEAN.


"India is willing to march with ASEAN to fulfil promise and potential of our strategic engagement," said the Prime Minister, wearing crisp white churidar, kurta and jacket.

He invited ASEAN as the "Guest of Honour" for the International Buddhist Conclave in October.

On documenting civilisational ties, Modi proposed commissioning project for mapping Indian inscriptions along Mekong river.

India announced hosting Commemorative Summit on "Shared Values, Common Destiny" in 2017 and also offered to host India-ASEAN Youth Summit.

Noting that cooperation in science and technology was a crucial element of development engagement, Modi proposed to enhance the ASEAN-India Fund with an additional grant of USD 50 million.


He also proposed Joint Task Force on connectivity to work on extension of India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Modi said India was committed to Master Plan on ASEAN connectivity.

Noting that natural disasters were a common challenge and joint priority, he said India will host Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in November.

Location: Laos, Viangchan, Vientiane