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India steps up ASEAN diplomacy

India steps up ASEAN diplomacy

New Delhi: Ahead of the summit with the 11-nation ASEAN this year-end, India is set to step up its Look East policy as Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong comes here on a two-day state visit Tuesday and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna heads to Cambodia to attend the 10th ASEAN-India ministerial meeting.

Accompanied by Singapore Parliament Speaker Michael Palmer, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat and senior officials, Lee will be on his second visit to India in the last seven years.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hold talks with his Singaporean counterpart here Wednesday that will focus on intensification of trade and investment and closer collaboration in the context of the global economic slowdown.

Singapore is India's largest trading partner among the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries and the second largest source of FDI inflows into India.

On the same day, Krishna will be in Cambodian capital Phnom Penh to attend the 10th ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting, the 2nd East Asia Summit foreign ministers meeting and the 19th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) ministerial meeting.

During his discussions with ministers from the ASEAN, Krishna is expected to highlight India's burgeoning partnership with the region and preparations for a special ASEAN-India Commemorative summit on Dec 20-21. The summit will mark twenty years of the India-ASEAN relationship and 10 years of the summit level partnership between the two countries.

India became a sectoral partner of ASEAN in 1992 and a dialogue partner in 1996.

At the 18-nation East Asia Summit meeting of foreign ministers, Krishna is expected to participate in discussions on expanding cooperation in the five core areas of education, energy, finance, disaster management and pandemics as well as connectivity and further economic partnership between the member countries.


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