A delegation of ASEAN Parliamentarians led by Kittisethabindit Cheam Yeap, the First Vice President of the National Assembly of Cambodia and the President of Cambodia AIPA National Group met India's Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar on Friday.
Welcoming the delegation, Mr Dhankhar, who is also the Rajya Sabha chairman, said he was delighted to meet the first international parliamentary delegation in his capacity as the Vice President of India.
About the 30 years of establishment of relations with ASEAN, he said the cultural and civilizational connect is visible in the monuments, architecture, languages, food habits, culture, and people that have created the foundation for a strong strategic partnership.
Mr Dhankhar said India is celebrating the 75th year of its Independence as 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav' and this year also marks various milestones in the establishment of India's diplomatic relations with ASEAN member states such as the 75th anniversary with Thailand, 70th anniversary with Cambodia, 65th anniversary with Malaysia and 50th anniversary with Vietnam.
Highlighting the importance of ASEAN as a 'gateway' to the Indian Ocean region, the chairman said India's relationship with the grouping is full of promise and potential since it is one of the most economically and politically dynamic regions of the world now.
Mr Dhankhar underscored the need for deeper engagement with ASEAN given its critical interface in India's 'Act East' policy.
Recollecting the growth of India's ties with ASEAN which has been upgraded to a Strategic Partnership in 2012, he expressed satisfaction about the progress of India's relationship with the grouping ever since India became a Sectoral Partner in 1992.
Advocating a strong ASEAN-centred regional architecture, the vice president said India fully supports ASEAN unity and centrality that provides for a natural platform to promote a free, open, inclusive, and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.
He also underlined the potential of Parliamentary diplomacy in building peaceful, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific ties and appreciated the role being played by the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) in bringing all ASEAN member states and observers together for the exchange of views and ideas for the overall progress of the region.
Referring to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla's visit to Cambodia, Vietnam, and Singapore earlier this year, Mr Dhankhar said India gives the highest priority to bilateral cooperation with the parliaments of ASEAN member states.
The delegation led by Kittisethabindit Cheam Yeap appreciated the friendly relationship between India and ASEAN countries and hoped that such a visit would further strengthen the existing bonds.
Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Harivansh and Secretary-General P C Mody were also present on the occasion.
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