Modi to embark on hectic diplomatic tour

New Delhi, Sep 1 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a hectic diplomatic week ahead with an important bilateral visit beginning Friday and three multi-lateral summits following in quick succession, including the G20 in China, with a two-day gap in between.

Modi will leave for Vietnam on Friday where he will hold bilateral meetings with the Vietnamese leadership on Saturday.

This will be the first prime ministerial visit to Vietnam in 15 years since the visit of then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2001.

From Vietnam, Modi will leave for Hangzhou, China, where he will attend this year’s G-20 Summit being held on September 4-5.

From Hangzhou, he will return to India on September 5.

Two days later, the Prime Minister will leave for Vientiane, Laos, where he will attend the 14th India-Asean Summit and the 11th East Asia Summit being held on September 7 and 8.

Addressing a media briefing here on Thursday, Preeti Saran, Secretary (East) in the External Affairs Ministry, said that Vietnam is the country coordinator for India with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

The Prime Minister will meet with the top Vietnamese leadership, including General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong, President Tran Dai Quang, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Chairman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan.

“Vietnam is the central pillar Of India’s Act East Policy,” Saran said.

“Our priorities in cooperation range in a whole host of areas, including defence and security, trade and investment, in maritime cooperation, in energy resources, integrating ourselves to the Asean community and for leveraging our interactions in regional and international forums,” she said.

Saran said Vietnam supported India’s membership in an expanded UN Security Council.

“Defence and security cooperation with Vietnam is very robust and it includes areas like counter-terrorism, trans-national crimes,” she said.

“In defence cooperation our focus has been in capacity building, in training, in high-level exchanges, and more recently in defence procurement.”

India’s bilateral trade with Vietnam now stands at $7.8 billion and India has surplus trade with Vietnam of around $2.8 billion.

Regarding the India-Asean and East Asia Summits, the Secretary said that this is the third time that Prime Minister Modi would be participating in these events.

“Both the Summits provide a very important platform to reiterate our partnership with Asean and with the wider Asia-Pacific region,” Saran said.

At the 14th India-Asean Summit, Modi and Asean leaders will review India-Asean cooperation and discuss its future direction under each of the three pillars of politico-security, economic and socio-cultural cooperation, according to statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry.

“Trade between India and Asean stood at $65.04 billion in 2015-2016and comprises 10.12 percent of India’s total trade with the world,” it stated.

The East Asia Summit is attended by the leaders of the 10 Asean member states, India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the US and Russia.

“At the 11th East Asia Summit, leaders will discuss matters of regional and international interest and concern including maritime security, terrorism, non-proliferation and illegal migration,” the statement said.

In a separate briefing, Sujata Mehta, Secretary (West) in the External Affairs Minister, said that at the G-20 Summit in China, the Prime Minister’s delegation will also include NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya, who is India’s sherpa at the event, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and Shaktikanta Das, Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs.

She said, as is the practice, Modi will have a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but bilateral meetings with other world leaders are still being worked out.

She also said that theme of the Hangzhou Summit is “Towards an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy”.

According to Mehta, India’s priorities in this summit will be cross-border mobility particularly in services, reduction in remittance costs from overseas Indians, poverty eradication, moderation in consumption and more sustainable lifestyle, and improved technology access.

“As part of our G-20 effort, we have also been working on measures directed against terrorism, in particular terrorist finance and corruption,”she said.

“We have also supported measures in reforming the global tax administration in the context of tax evasion and tax avoidance but also in terms of improving global taxation governance in general.”

–IANS

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