KUALA LUMPUR: Selamat Pagi. Chasing the dream of a rainbow Asian Century, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi touched down in his special aircraft at Bunga Raya airport in Kuala Lumpur on November 21 to begin a three-day visit to Malaysia that is set to galvanise the country’s newly-christened Act East policy and open up new pathways of cooperation with this economically vibrant and strategic region.
Malaysia is the first stop of Mr Modi’s two-nation tour that also includes Singapore, the largest ASEAN investor into India.
Mr Modi described Malaysia as “the core of India’s Act East policy” and unveiled an ambitious economic and security agenda that will dominate his speeches and interactions at the 10thIndia-ASEAN summit and East Asia Summit, a grouping that comprises key actors in the region, including 10 ASEAN countries, Japan, China, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, the US and Russia.
Business diplomacy will be the reigning mantra as Mr Modi pushes for more robust linkages with the region that is setting new benchmarks in enterprise, ingenuity and innovation. “Our trade and investment flows are substantially growing. Yet, we want to further scale up our trade and economic ties. I will expand on the need for closer economic cooperation and investment opportunities in India at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit…,” Mr Modi said in a series of posts on his Facebook page. This desire for economic upgrade will be reflected in his address at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit at Hotel Shangri-la in the Malaysian capital on November 21.
Mr Modi’s Day 1 in Kuala Lumpur is packed with back-to-back meetings that includes address to the India-ASEAN summit at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, bilateral talks with the leaders of China, Japan and New Zealand and attending the gala dinner for the region’s leaders hosted by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Placing India’s burgeoning ties with the ASEAN in the larger context of an unfolding Asian resurgence, Mr Modi underlined that robust India-ASEAN ties will give great impetus to our collective dream of making this century an ‘Asian Century.
Shadow of Terror
The promise of an Asian Century will, however, be contingent on sustaining peace and security in the region, which is facing new threats from the twin evils of extremism and terrorism. In the aftermath of the horrendous Paris terror attacks, terrorism and the febrile situation in the Middle East have zoomed on top of the agenda of ASEAN and EAS summits. Malaysia has deployed around 7000 police personnel to ensure that the summits are not derailed and overshadowed by acts of terror. The security has been tightened after a leaked police memo warned 10 suicide bombers had managed to sneak into the capital city.
With India being a recurrent victim of terror, the Indian leader is expected to make a strong pitch for enhancing regional counter-terror cooperation and pitch for the adoption of Comprehensive Convention to Combat Terror. In his statement marking his arrival in Kuala Lumpur, Mr Modi stressed that the twin summits are being “being held at a critical juncture” and will focus on “pressing security issues”. “The looming threat of terror and the prevailing situation in West Asia will also be a part of the discussions,” he stressed.
The regional summits in Kuala Lumpur have coincided with the adoption by the U.N. Security Council of a French-sponsored resolution calling on all nations to redouble and coordinate action to prevent further attacks by Islamic State terrorists and other extremist groups.
The Islamic State group, says the resolution, “constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security” and expresses the council’s determination “to combat by all means this unprecedented threat.”
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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