Modi seeks enhanced Asean cooperation to fight terrorism

Kuala Lumpur, Nov 21 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra on Saturday sought enhanced cooperation from Asean to fight the scourge of terrorism while saying that India and the southeast Asian regional grouping remained the two bright spots of optimism in these troubled global times.

“We meet at a time of multiple global challenges: economic uncertainties, political turmoil and security threats,” Modi said in his address as the 13th Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)-India Summit got underway here.

“In this difficult moment, India and Asean are two bright spots of optimism,” he said.

Asean comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The prime said terrorism has become a “major global challenge that affects us all here”.

“We have excellent bilateral cooperation with Asean members. And, we should see how we can enhance our cooperation at the regional and international level, including through support for adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism,” he said.

On economic relations, he said India has emerged as the fastest growing economy with a growth rate of 7.5 percent while Asean’s economy continued to forge ahead with dynamism and energy.

“I have no doubt that we will reinforce prosperity for our 1.9 billion people,” he said.

Modi said that after a temporary decline, trade between India and the Asean copuntriues increased to about $76.5 billion in 2014-15.

“Asean remains the largest investment partner ?bboth for inward and outward flows,” he said.

He, however, said that much of the potential for economic partnership between the two sides remained untapped.

“I am confident that our trade and investment will expand, as our economies grow.”

Modi also expressed hope for progress in negotiations for a balanced and ambitious Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement that would cover goods and services as well as investments.

“Connectivity is the pathway to shared prosperity. The Trilateral (India-Myanmar-Thailand) Highway project is making good progress and should be completed by 2018,” he said.

Stating that science, technology and innovation constituted a vital pillar of cooperation between India and Asean, the prime minister said that the Asean-India Science and Technology Development Fund would be enlarged from the current $1 million to $5 million.

“We also intend to set up an Asean-India Innovation Platform to facilitate commercialization of low cost technologies, technology transfer and collaborative R&D projects,” he said.

He also invited the Asean nations to join his proposed solar alliance.

“I have also proposed an international solar alliance of 122 solar-rich countries, which French President (Francois) Hollande and I will launch in Paris on November 30. We look forward to your participation in the launch and the alliance,” he said.

On Asean-India cultural links, Modi said that India proposed to open an Asean Studies Centre in the Northeastern Hill University in Shillong, “which is our gateway to the East”.

Earlier on Saturday, Modi addressed the Asean Business and Investment Summit here.

He will also attend the 10th East Asia Summit here on Sunday.

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