India to draft 5-year plan of action to deepen ties with ASEAN

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Seeking deepening of ties with ASEAN, India today said it would soon draft a five- year plan of action starting 2016 to take the "trajectories" of common interests with the 10-member grouping to a new level and particularly emphasised on improving connectivity in the region to further boost trade and people-to-people contact.

In her address at the 12th India-ASEAN meeting here, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the new government in India would like to stand with the grouping and take the relationship forward so people's aspirations for growth and development could be fulfilled.

"As you are on the brink of achieving your long cherished goal of the ASEAN Community by 2015, I bring to you the assurance of the new Government in India that we would like to stand with you and take the trajectories of our common interests higher in the coming years, both in terms of achievement and relevance to our bilateral ASEAN+1 relationship and also in terms of the multilateral ambition at the regional and global levels," Swaraj said in her first engagement at multilateral fora.

Strongly pitching for improvement in connectivity, she said India wanted connectivity in all its dimensions – geographic, institutional and people-to-people. She also referred to 5Ts of government of India – Tradition, Talent, Tourism, Trade and Technology - reflecting priority areas and noted that in foreign policy connectivity precedes them all.

"To the 5 Ts of the Government of India – Tradition, Talent, Tourism, Trade and Technology, I would like to reiterate the value of a 'C' before them all in foreign policy – the 'C' of connectivity in all its dimensions, geographic, institutional and people-to-people. I would like this 'C' of connectivity to translate into tangible and urgent action on the ground, bringing our capacities together to mutual benefit," she said.

Talking about taking forward the ASEAN-India ties to the next level, she said India will soon draft an action plan in this regard. "We have an impressive array of 26 cross-sectoral annual dialogue mechanisms between ASEAN and India. We should soon be drafting our next Plan of Action for 2016-2021."

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