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PM Modi to visit Malaysia, Singapore from Nov 21

New Delhi, Nov 18 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Malaysia and Singapore from November 21 during which he will attend the 13th ASEAN-India Summit and the 10th East Asia Summit (EAS).

Addressing the media here on Wednesday, Anil Wadhwa, secretary (East) in the ministry of external affairs, said Modi would reach Kuala Lumpur on November 21 to attend both the summits followed by a bilateral visit after which he will go to Singapore on a bilateral visit.

“Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, the prime minister of Malaysia, will be chairing both the summits, which will be attended by heads of state and government of other ASEAN (Association of Sourheast Asian Nations) and East Asia Summit participating countries respectively,” Wadhwa said.

“At the 13th ASEAN-India Summit, the prime minister and ASEAN leaders will review the ASEAN-India cooperation and discuss its future direction. The leaders will take note of the new Plan of Action (2016-2020) to further enhance ASEAN-India cooperation along the politico-security, economic and socio-cultural pillars. They will also exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest or concern.”

According to Wadhwa, at the 10th East Asia Summit, the leaders will take stock of the achievements of the EAS over the last decade and deliberate on its future, with a view to strengthening it and making it more effective.

“The leaders will also discuss matters of regional and international concern including terrorism, irregular migration etc.,” he said.

Seven statements and declarations are expected to be adopted at the EAS to reinforce the leaders’ commitment to specific issues.

These are: i) Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the 10th Anniversary of the East Asia Summit; ii) EAS Declaration on the Global Movement of Moderates; iii) EAS Statement on Countering Violent Extremism; iv) EAS Statement on Issues Related to Security of and in the Use of Information and Communications Technologies; v) EAS Statement on Enhancing Regional Maritime Cooperation; vi) EAS Statement on Enhancing Regional Health Security Relating to Communicable Diseases with Epidemic and Pandemic Potential; and vii) Joint Statement on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Negotiations.

“In addition, the Asia Pacific Leaders’ Malaria Elimination Roadmap to eradicate Malaria by 2030 is also expected to be endorsed,” Wadhwa said.

Modi along with other EAS heads of state and government will also witness the signing ceremony by ASEAN heads of state and government of the “2015 Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the ASEAN Community” and the “Kuala Lumpur Declaration on ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together”.

The ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership has acquired further momentum after the enunciation of the Act East Policy by the prime minister at the 12th ASEAN-India Summit in Myanmar in November 2014.

“We have established an independent mission to ASEAN and the EAS earlier this year to give more traction to our engagement with both these groupings,” Wadhwa said.

India and ASEAN have 30 dialogue mechanisms including a summit and seven ministerial meetings in external affairs, commerce, tourism, agriculture, environment, renewable energy and telecommunications.

“Minister of state for external affairs attended the ASEAN-India foreign ministers’ meeting in Kuala Lumpur on August 5. Minister of state for commerce and industry attended the Asean economic ministers plus India consultations in Kuala Lumpur on August 23. Defence minister represented India at the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus in Kuala Lumpur on November 4-5,” the secretary (east) said.

ASEAN is India’s fourth largest trading partner, Wadhwa said.

India is, in turn, the sixth largest trade partner for ASEAN. Trade between India and ASEAN stood at $76.52 billion in 2014-15. India’s exports to ASEAN were $31.81 billion and India’s imports from Asean were $44.71 billion.

The ASEAN-India economic integration process has got a fillip with the creation of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area in July this year, after the entry into force of the Asean-India Trade in Services and Investment Agreements.

“Negotiations on a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement involving the 10 ASEAN countries and its six FTA (free trade agreement) partners including India have seen some breakthroughs and are expected to be concluded in 2016,” Wadhwa said.

There are around five million people of Indian origin in the ASEAN countries, Wadhwa said. During the course of his visit to Malaysia, Modi will also unveil statues of Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Vivekananda.

“In the 10 years since its inception in 2005, the EAS has become a key forum for addressing geo-strategic and geo-political issues in the Asia Pacific. India is a founding member of the East Asia Summit and our prime ministers have participated consistently in all summits.

Modi will visit Singapore on November 23 during which he will hold bilateral discussions with his counterpart of the city state, Lee Hsien Loong.

Of Singapore’s 5.5 million population, 350,000 people are of Indian-origin.

“In 2014-15, trade with Singapore was about $17 billion,” Wadhwa said.

Modi will return to India on November 24 night.