M A I N   N E W S

Indonesia seeks India’s help on defence
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

Vientiane, November 28
Within an hour of his arrival in Laos to attend the third Indian-Asean summit on Tuesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set in motion his interface with leaders from Indonesia, Laos and Vietnam which were essentially bilateral with the host country extending its support to India for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.

Dr Singh called on Indonesian President Sushilo Bambang Yudhoyono and met Loatian Prime Minister Bounhang Vorachit as well as his Vietnamese counterpart Phan Van Khai and also discussed with them the issues at the Asean summit. The third India-Asean summit takes place on Tuesday.

The focus in these discussions revolved around enlarging economic relations as well as giving an impetus to defence cooperation and dealing with the menace of terrorism bilaterally as well as multilaterally, National Security Adviser J N Dixit said briefing mediapersons accompanying the Prime Minister this evening.

The Indonesian President desired that India can meet their defence needs in certain categories and sought institutionalising the arrangement pertaining to joint patrolling of the Malacca Straits and the adjoining seas.

Mr Yudhoyono also desired activating the India-Indonesia Joint Commission for economic cooperation which had not met for a year. He underlined the need for cooperating in the energy sector, coal technology and hydrocarbons and working jointly in countering terrorism.

Dr Singh said that while pursuing bilateral efforts in tackling terrorism there should be multilateral understanding to deal with the problem which is spreading beyond the Afghanistan region.

In celebrating the anniversary of the Bandung conference which led to the Non-Aligned Movement, Mr Yudhoyono expected India as one of the founding members to play an active role.

India found it significant that as a Southeast Asian country, Laos extended its support to India for a permanent seat in the United Nations. Dr Singh noted that Laos is emerging as a regional entity and felt gratified that India had played a role in its development in infrastructure and power.

In response, Mr Vorachit sought India’s assistance in agriculture with specific emphasis on agricultural technology and Biotechnology. Dr Singh responded positively.

During his meeting with the Vietnamese Prime Minister, Dr Singh said the bilateral relations have been more substantive though after the end of the cold war there has been dilution of its content. He called for revitalising India’s relations with Vietnam and expanding it across the board encompassing power, hydrocarbons, science and technology, IT, nuclear energy and defence.

The flow of military equipment to Vietnam has been mostly of Russian origin. Because of the complementary in this regard, India can help upgrade the equipment.

The Vietnamese leader specially recalled the old ties with the Congress party which has returned to power at the head of a coalition government in New Delhi.

Later, at a reception hosted by India’s ambassador to Loas Tsewang Topden, Dr Singh declared that the Look East policy unveiled in 1991 “is solidly in place.”

Emphasising that India is at the threshold of a “new beginning and a new chapter,” Dr Singh said it was for the small Indian community in this country to carry forward the message that the world is one family by respecting the diversity and celebrating the pluralism. “India is on the move and is one of the fastest growing economies in the world,” he added.

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