Thursday, January 20, 2022

India Re-Emphasises Its Act East Policy

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was on a two day visit to Russia, also met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. India has a very strong relationship with Japan; the two Prime Ministers are also personal friends. The Indian External Affairs Ministry described the meeting as very cordial.

The meeting gave particular emphasis to the forthcoming visit of the Japanese Prime Minister to India for the Annual Summit. That will take place in the month of December.

Both leaders have agreed that the first 2+2 Ministerial Meeting i.e. the Foreign and Defence Ministers of the two countries will have a meeting preferably before the annual summit. Prime Minister Abe also mentioned that during the just concluded visit of Indian Defence Minister Raj Nath Singh to Japan, substantial issues have been discussed on taking forward the exchanges and cooperation in the field of defence.

Both Prime Ministers gave a very positive assessment of Japan America India Trilateral Meeting two of which have been held in the margins of the G20 in Buenos Aires and Osaka. It was a very positive evaluation by both leaders. They felt that this tradition of having a summit meeting between the three countries should continue.

India and Japan share similar views on the Indo-Pacific. Prime Minister Abe spoke of the free and open Indo-Pacific and of the importance of the bilateral cooperation in that regard, both on the economic side and in terms of people to people relations in order to build an Indo-Pacific region that is both secure and prosperous.

There was a brief discussion on the RCEP – the regional economic cooperation agreement that is being negotiated by the 16 countries including the ten countries of ASEAN. Both sides gave their perspective on the matter. Prime Minister Modi mentioned in particular that there are some issues of interest both in trade in goods and trade in services and that this should be kept in mind when any regional trading arrangement is made so that there is comfort level on all the sides for this agreement. 

Mr. Modi also held a very warm meeting with the Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. The Indian Prime Minister described Dr. Mahathir’s election as a very historic one and said that India was looking forward to working together with Malaysia.

Talks were held on bilateral matters. Prime Minister Mahathir acknowledged that there was a growing trade between the two countries but that Malaysia had a surplus in trade and he assured the Prime Minister that while we should continue to grow this trade Malaysia is looking at ways in which both sides can balance the trade well. He mentioned that Malaysia would also consider importing more from India so that India’s exports to Malaysia grow.

The rationale behind the reorganization of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir in terms of both giving effective governance and in terms of delivering socio-economic justice was explained to Malaysia. The two leaders discussed the growing threat of terrorism and on efforts by both sides on coping with growing global terror. Prime Minister Mahathir acknowledged that this is now an international problem and he unequivocally expressed that Malaysia is against terrorism in any form.

The Indian Prime Minister called on the Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga. The meeting was a very warm. President Battulga is likely to come on a State visit to India later this month. A number of outcomes were discussed. Quite a few projects on which there is ongoing work particularly the assistance India is giving in building a major oil refinery to meet Mongolia’s energy needs through a line of credit was discussed.

A number of people to people issues were discussed including culture and the spiritual connection. The Mongolian President specifically said he looked forward to his visit to Bodhgaya in addition to Delhi as well as to Bengaluru. Discussion on mitigating the impact of smog in Ulaanbaatar was held. President spoke of the success that India is having in mitigating the pollution due to stubble burning in the winter months.

India described these meetings as very productive and good and a re-affirmation of her ‘Act East Policy’.

Script: Padam Singh, AIR: News Analyst

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