Act East: Delhi-S(e)oul Bonding

It’s been a year of Looking East as well as Acting East for the Indian diplomacy. India’s diplomatic and economic engagement with Southeast Asian and East Asian countries saw a marked upswing in 2014. With India’s Look East policy morphing into Act East policy under the Narendra Modi government, the country’s diplomatic calendar in 2014 is ending with a visit by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to South Korea, which will focus on intensifying economic ties and injecting greater strategic content into this dynamic relationship.
The growing strategic comfort in bilateral ties will be reflected in a renewed push to implement the civil nuclear deal the two countries signed in 2011. Unlike Japan, which is still hemmed in by its powerful non-proliferation lobby, South Korea is expected to be more pragmatic and cooperate closely in areas of nuclear safety and research and development. The two sides have “identified research and development, training of India’s scientific personnel, and working together on next-generation reactors,” says Akbaruddin.
Looking ahead, South Korea, East Asia’s economic dynamo and India, Asia’s third largest economy, are set to come closer in an evolving calculus of win-win opportunities. The two countries are now looking to implement their civil nuclear deal, collaborate in outer space and frontier areas of technology, and are taking a slew of steps to bolster their defence and strategic ties through enhanced joint exercises and maritime cooperation. With the Asia-Pacific theatre becoming the focus of global attention and India acting east with renewed vigour, expect the multifarious India-South Korea strategic partnership to acquire a new ballast in days to come.

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