India has once again stressed the need for early completion of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway – and its extension to Cambodia – to boost connectivity in the region as part of the Narendra Modi government’s Act East policy.
As he conveyed Prime Minister Modi’s personal greetings to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh recently, visiting External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also called for speeding up connectivity from the Northeast to Vietnam through Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.
The two also flagged defence, tourism, demining, investment, and community development, as well as repairing temples during the conversation.
Hun Sen’s office said later that the Cambodian PM encouraged the ‘completion of technical studies’ to promote the free trade agreement between the two countries and the investment protection agreement.
He also requested India to promote direct flights to Cambodia to promote tourism and take the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation framework to the highest level.
During his virtual meeting with his Cambodian counterpart in May this year, Prime Minister Modi also highlighted the historical and civilisational links between the two countries and expressed his happiness at India’s involvement in the restoration of Angkor Wat and Preah Vihear temples in Cambodia, which depict the cultural and linguistic connect between the two countries.
Earlier in the day, Jaishankar held a string of significant bilateral meetings, including with the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on the sidelines of ASEAN Ministerial in the Cambodian capital.The External Affairs Minister started the day with ‘a warm conversation’ with Blinken, discussing the ‘ever-strengthening India-US relationship and the global situation’ before meeting Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong.
After discussions with his counterparts from Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore, the EAM addressed a ‘productive’ ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, an annual event that takes stock of the ASEAN-India partnership.
He stated that there is a ‘strong convergence’ on Indo-Pacific, UNCLOS, connectivity, Covid-19, terrorism, cyber security, Ukraine, and Myanmar.
‘Digital, health, agriculture education, and green growth will drive our partnership. Act East unfolds steadily,’ he tweeted after the meeting.
Jaishankar then met the new Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, reaffirming India’s commitment as a dependable friend and reliable partner, to the economic recovery and well-being of Sri Lanka.
Meeting Vietnamese Foreign Affairs Minister Bui Thanh Son next, Jaishankar emphasised maintaining the momentum of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries.