Manila: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday arrived here on a three-day visit to the Philippines to attend the India-Asean and the East Asia summits. The visit heralds "three days of intense diplomatic activity furthering our Act East Policy", External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted. This is the first Prime Ministerial visit from India to the Philippines in 36 years since the visit of Indira Gandhi in 1981.
Modi will attend the 15th India-Asean Summit and the 12th East Asia Summit in Manila on Tuesday. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the India-Asean dialogue partnership and the golden jubilee of the formation of the Asean. The Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Ahead of the summits, Modi is expected to hold a bilateral meeting with Filipino President Roberto Duterte on Monday. Meetings with other leaders including US President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are likely on the sidelines. Modi is also likely to participate in special celebrations of the 50th anniversary of ASEAN, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Leaders' Meeting and ASEAN Business and Investment Summit.
The business is being held to boost New Delhi's close cooperation to further enhance trade ties with Asean member-states that constitutes a significant 10.85 per cent of India's overall trade.
"During my first visit to the Philippines, I look forward to have a bilateral meeting with Duterte. I will also have interactions with other ASEAN and East Asia Summit Leaders," Modi said in his departure statement. "I am confident that my visit to Manila will give a new boost to India's bilateral relations with the Philippines and also further strengthen the politico-security, economic and socio-cultural pillars of our engagement with ASEAN."
Modi is also scheduled to visit the Philippines chapter of the Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti, the world's largest organisation rehabilitating disabled by providing free of cost artificial limbs, calipers and other aids. The Prime Minister said the visit to the Mahaveer Philippines Foundation in Manila "will demonstrate India's support for its activities in distributing free prosthesis 'Jaipur Foot' among the needy amputees". (IANS)