May 2024 \ News \ News

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar in late March concluded his three-nation Southeast Asia tour, beginning March 23, to strengthen bilateral relations and engage on regional issues of mutual concern. During his official visit from March 27-28, he paid a courtesy call to Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Bin Ibrahim and conveyed his greetings on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He thanked PM Ibrahim for his support in deepening bilateral ties under the India-Malaysia Enhanced Strategic Partnership.

EAM Jaishankar met the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Utama Haji Mohamad Bin Haji Hasan, and the two leaders held wide-ranging discussions on bilateral cooperation including political, trade and economic, defence, digital, culture, and education. They also exchanged views on issues of regional and global interest, following which EAM also met Gobind Singh Deo, Minister of Digital.

“Concluded my program in Malaysia by meeting Digital Minister @GobindSinghDeo. Discussed digital cooperation, including exchange of best practices and exploring business opportunities,” Dr Jaishankar said in a message on X. During the visit, EAM held a round-table meeting with the CEOs and leaders of industry and interacted with members of the Indian diaspora in the country, praising their contribution towards India-Malaysia ties. While addressing the diaspora, the EAM took on China for failing to uphold longstanding agreements with India just as he underscored the importance of normalising troop deployment at the India-China border.

As the EAM reached the Philippines, he addressed a press briefing in Manila alongside Enrique Manalo, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, extending India’s firm support following China’s “aggressive” action against Filipino navy men in the South China Sea. He called on all countries to adhere to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) “in its entirety, both in letter and in spirit”.

EAM Jaishankar and Manalo discussed shared interests in ensuring maritime safety, given that the two nations contribute so much to the global shipping industry. EAM Jaishankar met Bongbong Marcos, President of the Philippines, who lauded and thanked the Indian Navy and the government for their swift and decisive action in rescuing Filipino seafarers after they were attacked by Houthi rebels in the Gulf of Aden this month.

During his visit to Singapore from March 23-25, the EAM had several bilateral engagements with the leadership and senior Ministers of the Cabinet. He called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and met the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Lawrence Wong.

“Honoured to call on Prime Minister @leehsienloong at The Istana. Conveyed the personal greetings of PM @narendramodi. Valued his perspectives on the current state of the world,” the EAM wrote on X. With Wong, the EAM exchanged views on deepening engagement in the identified pillars of our cooperation including fintech, digitalisation, green economy, skills development, and food security.

He also called on Singapore’s Indian-origin Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan with whom he “exchanged views on the Indo-Pacific and West Asia”. “Reviewed the progress of our bilateral cooperation. Spoke about preparations for the next ISMR (India-Singapore Ministerial Roundtable) meeting. Discussed marking 60 years of our diplomatic ties,” Dr Jaishankar said.

Envisioned by Prime Minister Modi, the first ISMR between the two nations, seeking to “deepen existing cooperation and identify opportunities for collaboration in new and emerging areas”, was held in 2022. Following the inaugural meeting then, PM Modi conveyed his appreciation and hoped that initiatives like ISMR would help further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries.

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