Chandigarh, September 8
“Dellhi to Dili”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday said announcing an Indian embassy in Timor-Leste (or East Timor as it is also called). Dili is the capital city of Timor-Leste—a country with significant strategic importanceand geopolitical significance due to its location
It is also one more link in India’s ‘Look/Act East’ policy.
The PM made the announcement at ASEAN-India—“a key point in India’s ‘Act East policy’ and Indo-Pacific initiative.” “The decision is a reflection of the importance India attaches to ASEAN, and its relations with Timor-Leste,” the MEA stated.
India, in fact, was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Timor-Leste. It also participated in its Independence Day celebrations in May 2002. A high-level delegation led by the then Minister of State for External Affairs represented India at the event. An MOU formally establishing diplomatic relations was signed on January 24, 2003, according to reports.
Timor-Leste, an “essential actor in Southeast Asia”
The decision to open an embassy in Timor-Leste is backed by many reasons, experts say. The country comes with great geopolitical significance due to itslocation in the region.
According to a research paper in the Journal of International Relations, since its independence from Indonesia, East-Timor has become an “essential actor in Southeast Asia”.
The small country had been under the dominance of the Portuguese till 1975, when the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor resistance movement declared independence. However, the new country was soon invaded by Indonesia which relinquished following the United Nations sponsored act of self-determination, as per the paper.
Biden to skip 9/11 ceremony on US soil
Meanwhile, for the first time since 9/11—the worst terrorist’ attack in the USA—a US president will not be attending any of the observances on its soil this year. According to reports, President Joe Biden will attend a ceremony at a military base in Alaska, where he will stop after his visit to Vietnam while on his way back home.
“It will be the first time that a US President will not attend any of the observances that are held annually in New York City, Pennsylvania and Virginia, just outside Washington.
“The main reason is that Biden will visit Vietnam after the G-20 summit in New Delhi,” explain geo-political experts.
Biden's visit to Vietnam, a signal to China
Biden will be in Vietnam on September 10, a move that is being seen as an attempt to fortify US influence in the region and counter China’s aggression and influence in the region.
As it is, the USA has been working on re-building ties with Vietnam—the country it fought a really long and costly war with. It was a conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam against South Vietnam and its principal ally US and was intensified by the ongoing Cold War between the country and the erstwhile Soviet Union.
All US presidents since Bill Clinton in 2000 have visited the former Southeast Asian enemy.According to geo-political experts, the underlying goal of Biden’s visit to both the G-20summit and Vietnam is to send a “strong signal to China”, which has chosen to skip the New Delhi event. “Biden’s visit is important from both diplomatic point of view and future partnerships in the Indo-Pacific/ Asia-Pacific region,” they say.
Experts say the visit to Beijing's backyardis aimed at formally strengthening ties with Vietnam—a country apprehensive of China’s aggressive and expansionist policies and, at the same time, also a benefactor of the economic fall-out of the US-China trade war.
Vietnam is engaged in a dispute with China over the control over some parts of the South China Sea. There have also been reports of China building an airfield on an island that Vietnam claims is its territory. However, Vietnam has also been benefiting from controls placed by the US on Chinese industry. Several American companies have moved business to Vietnam.
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