India to Host 10 Asean Foreign Ministers Mid-June

India will host the foreign ministers of all 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations on June 15-17, to expand its outreach to Southeast Asia as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy and become a viable partner amid China's massive inroads into the region.

This will be the maiden occasion when India will host all 10 foreign ministers from Southeast Asia, coinciding with 30 years of India-Asean partnership and 10 years of its strategic partnership with Asean. The meet is expected to provide a platform to discuss the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework that was announced in Tokyo last week besides issues of connectivity, investments, supply chains and maritime security.

Three potential areas for India-Asean partnership are health security, digital economy and green sustainable development. Vaccines, building efficient and resilient supply chains, digital technology and innovation have emerged as the key areas of cooperation between India and Asean member states for achieving a sustainable economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic, experts on the region pointed out.

Seven Asean states have joined IPEF. India, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, United States and Vietnam issued a statement on IPEF in Tokyo last week, committing to a free, open, fair, inclusive, interconnected, resilient, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region that has the potential to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

There are reports that India may not invite the foreign minister representing the military junta of Myanmar and instead get a bureaucrat of the Myanmar foreign ministry. The meet visit will coincide with the Delhi Dialogue -the annual track 1.5 conference bringing together dignitaries, senior officials, business leaders, scholars, academicians and eminent persons of India and Asean to discuss ways to further strengthen the Asean-India Strategic Partnership.

Launched in 2009, eleven editions of the Dialogue have been held as of date. The twelfth edition (DD XII) will be held in-person on June 16-17.

Asean has been regarded as a cornerstone of India’s Act East Policy. Asean and India together are engaged in shaping the Indo-Pacific architecture. Engagement with Asean has been, and will remain, a critical element of India’s ‘Act East’ policy and ‘Indo-Pacific’ initiative. The relationship has evolved from the ‘Look East Policy’ enunciated in the early 1990s which led India to become a Sectoral Partner of Asean in 1992, a Dialogue Partner in 1996 and a Summit-level Partner in 2002.

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