Maritime security to top PMs agenda at East Asia summit

With the international waters in the East Asia region being used for trade, maritime security will top Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's agenda at the seventh East Asia Summit from November 18.

Also, the status of the India-Asean FTA on services and investments, the negotiations for which are going on, could come up for discussion.

Singh, who is travelling to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for the 10th Asean-India summit and the seventh East Asia Summit November 18-20 is likely to have bilateral meetings with the US President and the Chinese Premier.

Other important sectors for collaboration at the East Asia Summit would be in energy, education, disaster management and pandemics, including tackling malaria, said an official of the ministry of external affairs in New Delhi. According to the official, "East Asia has emerged as an important dialogue forum in the region on strategic, geo-political issues with the aim of promoting peace and security."

Regional and international issues would be discussed with other leaders during retreat sessions at the East Asia Summit, that has 18 countries, including the Asean nations as well as India, the US and Russia.

At the Asean-India Summit, capacity building, connectivity and furthering economic growth and peace and stability will be on the agenda. "India's Dialogue Partnership with the Asean countries is one of the cornerstones of our foreign policy and the foundation of our Look East Policy," said the official.

Asean-India trade in 2011-12 was worth $79 billion, surpassing the $70-billion target set earlier, he informed media persons.

Earlier this month, the PM had sought an update on the progress of the talks to widen the existing FTA beyond goods to investment and services. Services are of importance to India as they contribute over 55% of the country's gross domestic product.

"India wants the service sector to be liberalised by removal of all non-tariff barriers," they said.

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