Within the framework of India's Act East Policy, there have been intensive bilateral interactions in various sectors with the countries of South East Asian region in recent years. To give these interactions a further boost, Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister (EAM) will undertake her first visit of the year 2018 to three South East Asian countries – Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore - from 4-8 January 2018.
According to an MEA release on the first leg of this visit, EAM will be in Thailand on 4-5 January 2018. She will hold an official meeting with Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, who will also host a dinner in honour of EAM. All aspects of bilateral relations with Thailand will be discussed with particular focus on political, defence and economic ties and on further enhancing India's engagement with ASEAN countries. Thailand will assume the role of coordinator country for India-ASEAN relations in the middle of 2018.
During the visit to Indonesia on 5-6 January, 2018, EAM will co-chair the 5th meeting of India-Indonesia Joint Commission with her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi. Minister Marsudi will host a banquet in EAM's honour. The Ministers will also inaugurate the second meeting of ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks. EAM will call on the President of Indonesia, and have other official engagements, including an interaction with representatives of the Indian community. She will also meet the new Secretary General of ASEAN Lim Jock Hoi.
As the biggest country in the ASEAN region with the largest economy, Indonesia is an important partner for India including in trade and strategic matters. In recent times, there has been intensive engagement between the two countries bilaterally, as well as plurilaterally. The Joint Commission meeting and other engagements of EAM will enable the two countries to chart out the course of partnership during the year 2018.
During her visit to Singapore on 6-8 January, EAM will inaugurate the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) of ASEAN countries on 7 January 2018. The theme of the event is "Ancient Route, New Journey: Diaspora in the Dynamic ASEAN-India Partnership". She will have bilateral meetings with the leaders in Singapore and also interactions with PIO delegations from ASEAN countries, who are participating in the PBD. The Regional PBD is a large scale event covering a wide range of sectors including political relations, economic and investment, tourism and culture, connectivity, start-ups, S&T etc. PIO delegations from all ASEAN countries, including ministers, eminent personalities, business and socio-political leaders are participating in the event.
MEA release said on all three legs of her visit, EAM will share with her interlocutors relevant information about the forthcoming ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit which marks 25 years since the establishment of Dialogue Partnership between Indian and ASEAN. A series of events has been organized by MEA over the last year to celebrate this jubilee in different Indian cities and also ASEAN countries, which will culminate in the Summit later this month in New Delhi.