asean: India, ASEAN upgrade ties to comprehensive strategic partnership

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India and the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) on Saturday upgraded their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership (CSP) with the objective of advancing maritime security and connectivity initiatives.

The CSP, announced in Cambodia as the two sides marked three decades of cooperation, seeks to enhance trade and deepen collaboration in areas of public healthcare infrastructure, cyber security and regional connectivity. ET was the first to report that India and the ASEAN will announce their CSP at the commemorative summit. At a meeting the ASEAN leaders had with Indian Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said his nation welcomed the upgrade. Singapore is the country coordinator for India in the ASEAN.

India and the ASEAN decided to advance maritime cooperation, including in maritime security, countering piracy and armed robbery of ships, maritime safety and search and rescue operations, humanitarian assistance, disaster management and emergency response and relief, according to the joint statement issued after the meeting.

The two sides also decided to explore activities to implement the ASEAN-India Joint Statement on Cooperation on the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo Pacific (AOIP) for peace, stability and prosperity in the region through enhanced cooperation between the AOIP and the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI), with a focus on maritime cooperation, connectivity, the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and economic and other possible areas of cooperation.

They reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, maritime safety and security, freedom of navigation and over flight in the region, and other lawful uses of the seas and unimpeded lawful maritime commerce and to promote peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the relevant standards and recommended practices by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Lee noted that the ASEAN is commemorating the 30th anniversary of dialogue relations with India, and called the upgrade a timely one.

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