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�Act East� policy cements India�s ties with ASEAN

By The Assam Tribune

BANGKOK, Dec 26 - India�s �Act East� policy for cementing ties with the 10-member ASEAN bloc received a fillip in 2015 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending two key regional meetings and visiting Malaysia and Singapore, deepening bilateral ties.

Maritime security, defence, trade, investments, science and technology were among the key areas which got a boost with the Prime Minister�s visit to the two nations, which have a sizeable population of ethnic and expatriate Indians.

Modi called the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) an economic powerhouse and praised the bloc�s growth and stability.

The Prime Minister attended two high-profile meetings, the ASEAN-India Summit and East Asia Summit (EAS) in Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur in November.

In the ASEAN-India Summit, Modi called for enhancing cooperation with the bloc to tackle the major global challenge of terrorism and underlined the need for settling territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea through peaceful means.

India announced that it will soon extend electronic-visa facility to all ASEAN countries � Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Modi witnessed the signing of the historic ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) declaration, a EU-style regional economic bloc, which aims to integrate Southeast Asia�s diverse economies.

The AEC envisages a single market with a free flow of goods, capital and skilled labour across borders in the highly competitive economic region, which has a combined gross domestic product of USD 2.4 trillion.

In Malaysia, which has been called the core of the government�s �Act East Policy�, the Prime Minister held talks with his counterpart Najib Razak and the two leaders agreed to deepen cooperation in security and defence sectors and vowed to combat terror.

The two nations decided to continue sharing of information and best practices to address the challenges posed by terrorism and other �traditional and non-traditional threats�. � PTI

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