NEW DELHI, July 19: India and ASEAN as maritime partners and neighbours, must work together to ensure security and sustainability of oceans, seas and waterways. This was stated by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj while delivering the keynote address in the Ministerial Session of the Delhi Dialogue here on Thursday.
Organized by the Ministry of External Affairs, Delhi Dialogue is an annual event for strong economic and socio-cultural engagement between India and ASEAN. The theme of this year’s event is ‘Strengthening India-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation’.
Addressing the Special Plenary Session, Minister of State for External Affairs, Gen. (Dr) VK Singh (retd) said the theme has been aptly chosen in view of the government’s thrust on Indo-ASEAN maritime cooperation. He highlighted that through the Act East Policy, North-East India has an important role to reinvent itself as the hub of the country’s emerging relations with her eastern neighbours.
The Dialogue opened with a roundtable of Chief Ministers of North-East to discuss the current progress and priorities in strengthening the economic and cultural linkages with the ASEAN member states. Along with the Chief Ministers of Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura and Deputy Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam State Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary also attended the sessions.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister Patowary said that Government of Assam has established the Department of Act East Policy Affairs to supplement the efforts of the Government of India to improve the trade, economic and cultural relations between North East India and the countries of the ASEAN bloc.
Minister Patowary mentioned that in order to project Assam as India’s expressway to ASEAN, the Government of Assam organized the ‘Advantage Assam’ – Global Investment Summit in February this year where captains of the Indian industry attended the summit. ‘A special session on North East India’s economic ties with ASEAN and BBN countries was held where ministers of five ASEAN and BBN countries attended’, added Minister Patowary.
The Minister emphasised the importance of accessibility of Chittagong and Mongla ports of Bangladesh through the Brahmaputra River and Barak River. ‘We plan to promote trade through mutual investment and build an environment of mutual cooperation based on the physical proximity’, said Minister Patowary.