ASEAN's unity and centrality have always been an important priority for India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday and announced that the year 2022 would be celebrated as the 'ASEAN-India Friendship Year' to mark 30 years of their partnership.
Addressing the India-ASEAN Summit virtually, PM Modi said India's Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) and ASEAN's Outlook for the Indo-Pacific are the framework for their shared vision and mutual cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
"We all had to deal with many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But this challenging time was also a test for India-ASEAN friendship.In the Covid era, our mutual cooperation, mutual sympathy, will continue to strengthen our relationship in future, and will be the basis of goodwill among our people," PM Modi said.
"History is witness that India and ASEAN have had vibrant relations for thousands of years.Shades of that are visible in our shared values, traditions, languages, texts, architecture, culture, food and, therefore, the unity and centrality of ASEAN have always been an important priority for India," he said.
This special role of ASEAN is embedded in India's Act East Policy and Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR), he said.
"The year 2022 will mark the completion of 30 years of our partnership. India will also complete 75 years of its Independence.I am very glad that we will celebrate this important milestone as the 'Year of ASEAN-India Friendship'," PM Modi said.
He said India is committed to further deepen ties with the grouping under the next president Cambodia and country coordinator Singapore.
Noting that this year also the leaders could not take the traditional family photo, PM Modi said that by meeting in a virtual format, they had maintained the tradition of the ASEAN-India Summit.
He also congratulated the Sultan of Brunei for his successful presidency of ASEAN in 2021.
The 10-nation ASEAN is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region, and India and several other countries including the US, China, Japan and Australia are its dialogue partners.
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