Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said his visit to the Philippines for the 15th India-Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, the 12th East Asia Summit and his bilateral meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, symbolises India's commitment to continue deepening its ties with Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific region.
In a statement ahead of his departure on Sunday for a three-day visit to the Philippines, Modi said it will be his first bilateral visit to the ASEAN member state.
He said his participation in the two summits symbolises India's commitment to continue deepening relationship with ASEAN member states, in particular, and with the Indo-Pacific region, in general, within the framework of the government's Act East Policy.
The ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Modi said that besides the two summits, he would also participate in special celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the formation of the ASEAN, the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Leaders' Meeting and an ASEAN Business and Investment Summit.
RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between the 10 ASEAN member states and the six states with which the grouping has free trade pacts - Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
"The ASEAN Business and Investment Summit will boost our close cooperation to further enhance our trade ties with ASEAN member states, which constitutes a significant 10.85 per cent of our overall trade," the Prime Minister said.
"During my first visit to the Philippines, I look forward to have a bilateral meeting with President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte. I will also have interactions with other ASEAN and East Asia Summit leaders."
Stating that he looked forward to connecting with the Indian community in Philippines, Modi said that he would also visit the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Mahavir Philippines Foundation Inc. (MPFI).
He said that the IRRI "through scientific research and development has developed better quality of rice seed and helped the global community in addressing food scarcity issues".
Stating that a large number of Indian scientists are working in IRRI, he said: "My cabinet approved on July 12, 2017, a proposal for IRRI to set up its South Asia Regional Centre at Varanasi. This will be the first research centre by IRRI outside its headquarters in the Philippines. The Varanasi centre would help increase farmers' income by enhancing and supporting rice productivity, reducing cost of production, value addition, diversification and enhancement of farmers' skills."
As for his visit to the MPFI, he said that it would demonstrate India's support for its activities in distributing free prosthesis Jaipur Foot among the needy amputees.
"Since its establishment in 1989, MPFI has fitted nearly 15,000 amputees in the Philippines with Jaipur Foot making them capable of living a new life," he said, adding that the Indian government was making "a modest contribution" to the foundation to support its noble humanitarian activities.
"I am confident that my visit to Manila will give a new boost to India's bilateral relations with the Philippines and also further strengthen the politico-security, economic and socio-cultural pillars of our engagement with ASEAN," the Prime Minister added.