Wednesday saw the arrival of top ASEAN leaders on Indian soil to take part in the India-ASEAN commemorative summit marking 25 years of partnership. As the regional situation is developing in complex ways and militarization tends to mount, the successful formulation of a legally binding COC will be both an important contribution to regional peace and stability in the region in general and in the East Sea in particular, he said.
The leaders are also expected to adopt the Delhi Declaration at the Summit.
Addressing the valedictory session of the ASEAN-India Business and Investment Meet and Expo, Jaitley highlighted the enormous potential of investment in India, adding that the country has displayed its capability in performing at times of adversity as well.
As China tries to flex its muscles, India is increasing its maritime engagement with these nations as a counterbalance.
In the run up to the summit, various programmes ranging from culture to trade have been organised by India such as the ASEAN India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas which was held in Singapore on January 6-7, 2018.
India on Wednesday rolled out the red carpet for the 10 South-East Asian leaders, as they arrived to hold an ASEAN-India commemorative summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Several connectivity projects that India has undertaken in alliance with ASEAN countries are also aimed at improving trade ties with the Southeast Asian region.
Trade and investment cooperation should be targeted as the main engine and first priority for the ASEAN-India strategic partnership, said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
The ASEAN-India Plan of Action for the period 2016-20 identifies economic cooperation as one of the key pillars of association. Swaraj said it was necessary to propagate the "special relationship" between India and Asean among the youth. He also stressed on the importance of improved connectivity and investment in quality infrastructure for achieving higher trade and investment for India.He added that India is now working with ASEAN on multiple connectivity projects for land, air and water.
In line with ASEAN countries, which are looking for a rules-based security infrastructure in the disputed waters, India in November said, "India assures the ASEAN of its steady support towards achieving a rules-based regional security architecture that best attests to the region's interests and its peaceful development". This is an optically powerful statement of how much India's relations with South East Asia have progressed since a Look East Policy was first articulated by Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao in 1992 in Singapore.