PM Narendra Modi to begin 3-day visit to Philippines on Sunday

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for the Philippines on November 12 on a three-day visit to attend the India-ASEAN and East Asia summits during which boosting regional trade and combating terrorism and extremism are likely to be among the focus areas. Officials said India’s proposal to host an international conference on countering radicalization may be discussed during the deliberations at Manila as New Delhi is now looking at finalizing the dates for the conclave.
The Prime Minister will have a tight schedule in the Philippines as besides attending the 15th ASEAN-India summit and 12th East Asia summit on November 14, he will have a series of other engagements including bilateral meetings with several leaders. While the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit is likely to focus more on trade and investment related issues, leaders at the East Asia Summit are expected to deliberate on matters relating to maritime security, terrorism, non-proliferation and migration.
“ASEAN is central to India’s Act East policy. Therefore our Prime Minister’s participation in the ASEAN-India summit and the East Asia Summit provides a very important opportunity to reiterate our commitment to our partnership,” Secretary East in the external affairs ministry Preeti Saran told reporters.
She said the prime minister will also participate in the ASEAN business and investment summit as well as a meeting of leaders of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The RCEP, comprising 10-member ASEAN bloc and six other countries — India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, is engaged in negotiations for a free trade pact. Saran said India remained committed to participation in the RCEP.
In his maiden visit to the Philippines as the prime minister, Modi will also attend a reception by the Indian community and visit the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Mahavir Philippines Foundation. IRRI is an institute of global repute where a number of Indian scientists are working. On India’s proposal at last ASEAN-India summit at Lao PDR to host a conference on countering radicalization, Saran said India was in the process of fixing dates for it. Saran said during the India-ASEAN Summit, the two sides will review the bilateral trade and investments and discuss important regional issues as well.
The 10-member grouping ASEAN and India comprise a total population of 1.85 billion people which is one-fourth of the global population. The combined GDP has been estimated at over 3.8 trillion dollars. Trade between India and ASEAN stood at USD 65.04 billion in 2015-16 and comprises 10.12 per cent of India’s total trade with the world. Apart from the 10 ASEAN Member states, East Asia Summit includes India, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Russia.
Asked about whether Modi will have bilateral meetings with US President Donald Trump and other leaders, Saran, without giving any specific reply, said the details are being worked out. She said Modi will have a bilateral meeting with the President of Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, on November during which all major issues of mutual interest will be discussed.
Saran said a connectivity summit will be held in December while a regional Pravasi Bhartiya Divas will be organized in January next year in Singapore. Asked about the proposed India-Japan-US-Australia quadrilateral and possibility of a meeting among officials of the four countries in the Philippines, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “India is open to work with like-minded countries.”

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