Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s participation in meetings in Brunei and his visit to Singapore recently demonstrated that Look East Policy (LEP) is the cornerstone of India’s foreign policy and partnership with ASEAN is the foundation of India’s LEP.

An article by General Director of India Council of World Affairs (ICWA) Rajiv Bhatia run on India Writes Network (IWN) on July 8 stressed that India-ASEAN ties are on upswing.

In Brunei’s capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan , India ’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and his ten ASEAN counterparts voiced their satisfaction at the enhancement of cooperation in the region, said Rajiv Bhatia.

He noted that the India-ASEAN relationship reached a historic milestone in December 2012 when leaders of ASEAN countries gathered in the Indian capital of New Delhi to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the dialogue partnership and look towards a ‘strategic partnership’.

Another noteworthy feature is that India-ASEAN trade has grown ten times in 10 years since 2002, reaching 80 billion USD in 2012. But, there is now growing concern about the decline in trade in 2012-13. More earnest joint efforts are needed to achieve the target of 100 billion USD by 2015.
The ICWA leader said it is encouraging that 25 different mechanisms operational at present have formed multi-layered cooperation through dialogue.

India and ASEAN continue to focus on traditional areas such as trade, tourism, human resources development and agriculture, while exploring possibilities in new areas like environment, renewable energy, SME and space science, he said.

India also continues to help ASEAN’s community building with the goal to help the latter secure a stronger community by the end of 2015, he said, adding that his country will help less developed member states, known as CLMV (Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam), through assistance in IT, education, skill enhancement and teaching of English language.-VNA