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Relations with countries in Southeast Asia very upbeat, coherence in outlook towards the world: India's envoy to Indonesia

By Ayushi AgarwalJakarta [Indonesia], September 6 (ANI): The relations with countries in Southeast Asia are"very upbeat and dynamic" and a re-affirmation of very active Act East policy, India's ambassador to Indonesia Sandeep Chakravorty has said and noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit for ASEAN-India and East Asia Summit is loaded with significance.

In an interview with ANI, the envoy also said that both Jakarta and New Delhi have strategic autonomy as a fundamental principle of their foreign policies.

"You must have heard that several ASEAN countries have spoken out and reaffirmed commitment to UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas). I think the international law of the seas, these are principles to which India abides and ASEAN also does. So, I think there we find similar views," Chakravorty said.

"I think what is remarkable about our relationship with ASEAN and Indonesia is that you know there is a remarkable coincidence and coherence in our outlook towards the world in foreign policies. Indonesia also has strategic autonomy as a fundamental principle of their foreign policy just like India," he added.

There has been concern among countries in the region about China's aggressive stance in the South China Sea.

India had last month called for adherence to international law in the context of issues relating to the South China Sea in the wake of fresh tensions between China and the Philippines and had reaffirmed its support for a rules-based order.

Chakravorty said trade relations between India and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) have been gaining strength.

"There is investment in ASEAN and the countries are investing in India, so a great deal of economic activities, cultural links, connectivity," he said, adding that air connectivity has also improved. Chakravorty said PM Modi's visit to Indonesia shows the importance that India gives to the country and to the ASEAN

"The fact that the Prime Minister is coming to Indonesia is loaded with significance. Particularly when in a couple of days, the G20 summit will start in India and world leaders have started to arrive in India. His finding time to attend the East Asia and ASEAN summit shows the importance that India gives to Indonesia and to the ASEAN," he said.

"I think it's a very upbeat, upswing and dynamic relationship that India has with this region. And it's a re-affirmation of our policy of very active Act East policy. It will be 10 years of our Act East next year when we will also celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations with Indonesia. The fact that he is coming to Indonesia twice in less than a year is very, very meaningful," he added.

The envoy said there is excitement in the diaspora about the visit of the Prime Minister.

"Because of G20, the Prime Minister is coming for a short visit. Still, there is a great deal of excitement in this country. The Indian diaspora is very excited. We have a sizeable Indian diaspora and they are all very keen to meet the Prime Minister. Although there may not be a formal engagement,they will be here in strength to receive and see off Prime Minister," he said.

"The great deal of excitement is not only among the diaspora but also in Indonesia. Because of the importance that Indonesia gives to Bharat and also the relationship with Indonesia has progressed remarkably in the last few years," he added.

Asked about the use of'Bharat' instead of India in a G20 invite and Prime Minister's visit document for ASEAN-India and the East Asia summit, the envoy said that "India that is Bharat is part of our constitution" and "it has a constitutional mandate".

PM Modi will visit Jakarta for the 20th ASEAN-India summit and the 18th East Asia summit, scheduled for September 7.

He will participate in the ASEAN-India summit along with leaders of the ASEAN member states. East Asia summit brings together at the leadership level, ASEAN members and eight dialogue partners - Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States.

He will depart Delhi on September 6 night and return late evening on September 7. (ANI)