PM to meet world leaders during 3-nation tour, ASEAN summit

Continuing to build on the bonhomie he is seeking with India's nearer neighbours, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to have at least two dozen direct meetings with world leaders in Myanmar and Australia during his 10-day, three-nation tour, which sees him in Nay Pyi Taw today.

 
Prime Ministe Narendra Modi receives the Guard of Honour on his arrival in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar on 11 November 2014  

Officials said Modi will meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott during his Myanmar visit for the ASEAN and East Asia Summits.

Later, he will be in Australia and Fiji between 11 and 20 November.

He is also likely to have a ''pull-aside'' with US President Barack Obama, as they will be part of  both the ASEAN and G-20 summits, which are to take place back-to-back.

Modi will have his first meeting with Li Keqiang on the sidelines of the East Asia summit at Nay Pyi Taw, and a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping will take place during the ''informal'' meeting of BRICS leaders on the fringes of the G-20 summit in Brisbane.

In Australia, as he meets Abbott, the two countries are expected to sign a clutch of agreements on combating narcotics, social security, culture, transfer of sentenced prisoners and tourism.

This will be their second meeting in two months, as Abbott was the first foreign leader to come for a state visit under the new Narendra Modi-led NDA government.

''During the course of these summits and my bilateral visits, I will meet over 40 leaders from countries representing Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America and Pacific Region, as also heads of many multilateral institutions. These meetings are taking place at a time of multiple global challenges. I look forward to seeking a global environment that supports our aspirations for economic development and a peaceful world,'' Modi PM said in his departure statement on Monday.

He said in this century, the 10-nation ASEAN bloc can boast the world's third-largest population, seventh-largest economy, and third-fastest growing economic zone.

 ''This dynamic region is our continental and maritime neighbour, linked by centuries-old ties. ASEAN is at the core of our Act East Policy and at the centre of our dream of an Asian century, characterised by cooperation and integration. I am looking forward to discussing with ASEAN leaders how to take our relationship to a new level, which will supplement our deepening bilateral ties with each member,'' he said.

''No region in the world embodies so much dynamism or faces so many challenges as the region spanning the Indian Ocean, continental Asia and Pacific Ocean. And, no other forum, perhaps, has as much potential to shape this region and the world's future as the East Asia Summit,'' he said, adding that he looks forward to discussing with ASEAN and seven global leaders how they can ''strengthen regional institutions, international norms and regional cooperation in pursuit of peace, stability and prosperity.''

Modi said the G-20 summit is a key forum for countries to coordinate their activities and pursue collective action to support global economic growth and stability, stable financial markets and global trading regimes and employment generation. ''I also intend to discuss how we can accelerate the creation of next generation infrastructure, which also includes digital infrastructure, and ensure access to clean and affordable energy. A key issue for me would be to highlight the importance of international cooperation against black money,'' he said.

On his four-city, three-day visit to Australia, he said, ''I am conscious of the fact that a prime ministerial visit from India is taking place after 28 years. While we have much in common with Australia, our political, strategic and economic relations have been below potential. A closer strategic partnership with Australia will support India's economic goals, promote our security interests, including maritime security, and, reinforce our efforts to foster a climate of peace and stability in our extended continental and maritime neighbourhood.''