Time for Global South to assume greater role: EAM Jaishankar at ASEAN meet

New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) Asserting that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or the ASEAN, is at the heart of India’s ‘Act East’ policy, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said on Tuesday that the time has come for the Global South to present its perspective and assume a greater role in international affairs.

Addressing the first ASEAN Future Forum – initiated and hosted by Vietnam – virtually, EAM Jaishankar said that the regional grouping also remains a “crucial pillar” in New Delhi’s wider Indo-Pacific vision.

“Today, a multipolar Asia and a multipolar world are increasingly self-evident. This brings to the fore an ever-important role of ASEAN and that of India in dealing with the realities of the emerging world order. It underlies the need for greater cooperation and coordination between India and ASEAN,” the EAM said in his remarks at the opening session of the forum titled ‘Towards fast and sustainable growth of a people-centered ASEAN Community’.

He mentioned that India and ASEAN are neighbours, sharing millennia-old cultural and civilisational linkages with the relationship having now entered its fourth decade, maturing into a comprehensive strategic partnership based on shared values and common aspirations.

He also recalled that it was during India’s G20 Presidency last year that New Delhi hosted the Voice of Global South Summit with the participation of several ASEAN member states.

“We support ASEAN unity, ASEAN centrality, and the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific. India truly believes that a strong and unified ASEAN can play a constructive role in the emerging regional architecture of the Indo-Pacific,” Jaishankar said.

The Minister added that the synergy between India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) and the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) that is reflected in the ASEAN-India Leaders’ Joint Statement provides a strong framework for cooperation, including addressing challenges to comprehensive security.

“We held the first ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise in 2023 and we aim to hold the second edition at a mutually convenient date. Our recent operations in the Red Sea have rendered protection and support and evacuation of crew, including that of ASEAN member states.

“As a net security provider and a first responder, India’s initiative of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) is aimed at contributing towards peace and stability in the region. It is important that the freedom of navigation, overflight, and unimpeded commerce are respected and facilitated by all,” said the EAM.

Earlier, ASEAN Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn highlighted the role of the ASEAN Future Forum as a platform for ASEAN and its partners to share new ideas and policy recommendations.

He stressed the timeliness of convening such a forum for thinking through what lies ahead, particularly at this juncture as ASEAN is working on an ASEAN Community Vision 2045 and formulating its strategic plans.

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