Prime Minister Narendra Modi left for Indonesia to attend the 20th ASEAN-India Summit and 18th East Asia Summit on Wednesday night, where he is scheduled to hold multiple meetings with his counterparts. According to the Ministry of External Affairs, it is a "short" visit where PM Modi will land in the national capital, Jakarta early in the morning.
According to the sources, the PM is expected to land in Jakarta at around 4:35 a.m (local time). Subsequently, he will attend the crucial ASEAN-India Summit at 9:00 a.m. The meeting will continue till 10 a.m, after a break of 15 minutes, the Prime Minister will attend East Asia Summit.
I look forward to discussing with ASEAN leaders the future contours of our partnership: PMO
"I am travelling to Jakarta, Indonesia at the invitation of H.E. Mr. Joko Widodo to participate in the ASEAN-related meetings. My first engagement will be the 20th ASEAN-India Summit. I look forward to discussing with ASEAN leaders the future contours of our partnership, which has now entered its fourth decade. Engagement with ASEAN is an important pillar of India’s “Act East” policy. The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership entered into last year has injected new dynamism in our ties," Prime Minister's Office said hours before his visit.
"Thereafter, I will be attending the 18th East Asia Summit. This forum provides a useful opportunity to deliberate on issues of importance to the region including food and energy security, environment, health, and digital transformation. I look forward to exchanging views with other EAS Leaders on practical cooperation measures to collectively address these global challenges. I warmly recall my visit to Indonesia for the G-20 Summit in Bali last year, and I am confident that this visit will further deepen our engagement with the ASEAN region," he added.
Indonesia adjusted the timings of the event so that PM could return timely for the G20 Summit
Addressing a special press conference on Tuesday, Saurabh Kumar, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, said Indonesia has agreed to adjust the timings so that PM Modi could return to New Delhi for the upcoming G20 Summit.
"The prime minister will depart Delhi on the night of September 6 and return on September 7," Kumar told media persons.
"Indonesia was kind enough to advance the timings of the EAS so that the Prime Minister could come back early," said Kumar. "Earlier the meeting of EAS was scheduled for the afternoon but later it was adjusted a little bit. From 9 am to 10 am, there will be an ASEAN-India Summit and after a gap of 15 minutes, the EAS meeting will be held," he added.
Meanwhile, after holding the East Asia Summit, PM Modi will depart for New Delhi at around 1:20 p.m. He will land at 6:30 p.m. (Indian time).
What is ASEAN?
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a group of ten nations-- Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Besides, the ten influential nations, India, the US, China, Japan and Australia are its dialogue partners. The bloc was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok. The ASEAN Summit is held twice annually at a time to be determined by the Chair of the ASEAN Summit in consultation with other ASEAN Member States. The summit is to be hosted by the ASEAN Member State holding the ASEAN Chairmanship. The First ASEAN Summit was held in Bali, Indonesia on 23-24 February 1976. This year Indonesia is hosting the summit in its capacity as the current Chair of the ASEAN.
Why does it matter for India?
The event is significant for India as it is a platform where leaders of major countries such as the US, Japan and China meet and expand their ties- both economically and culturally.
According to MEA, this year, summit is "special" as it is the first meeting after the elevation of the relationship between the two sides to a comprehensive strategic partnership last year.
Besides, the ministry said that the trade relations between India-ASEAN nations are significant-- $131.5 billion in 2022-23-- which is the second largest after India-EU trade. Therefore, the Indian side will definitely grab the opportunity to boost trade relations among the partner nations.
Besides, the MEA said the PM will also discuss maritime security cooperation.
Will PM Modi raise the Chinese map controversy?
While responding to the question of whether the recent controversy erupted following the release of the so-called "standard" map by the Chinese side, the official underscored that there are chances that the issue would be discussed during the upcoming event but added he could anticipate the outcome.
"It is difficult to anticipate what would be discussed when the leaders meet. But issues which are of mutual concerns, regional and international would come up," he added. Notably, from the Chinese side, President Xi Jinping will not be present at the summit and instead, Premier Li Qiang will attend the event.
Earlier last week, China enraged New Delhi by incorporating India's integral regions such as Arunachal Pradesh, and Aksai Chin in their latest edition of the map released. The map released on the website and social media platforms of the state news publication, Global Times, included the disputed areas including Arunachal Pradesh, Aksai Chin region, Taiwan and the disputed South China Sea under their territory.
It is worth mentioning China claims Arunachal Pradesh is a part of the Tibet region. This prompted India to respond aggressively. However, later, China urged India to "stay objective and calm" and desist from "over-interpreting" the issue claiming it is a "routine practice" by its law.