Hours before the 69th Republic Day celebrations, leaders of India and ASEAN pondered ways to boost maritime security, connectivity and trade.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meanwhile, said that India shares the ASEAN vision for rule-based societies and pitched for freedom of navigation in the region.
Modi had earlier released commemorative stamps to mark 25 years of Indo-ASEAN ties at the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit, with highest-level of participation from all the 10 member-countries of the bloc.
The highest-level of participation at the summit, according to reports, comes in the backdrop of increasing Chinese economic and military assertiveness in the region.
Some experts feel that the meet can be an opportunity for India to present itself as a powerful ally to these countries in the strategic areas of trade and connectivity.
The ASEAN leaders are chief guests at the Republic Day which was termed by Modi as “historic and unprecedented”.
Officials were quoted as saying that the summit is likely to boost India-ASEAN cooperation in key areas of counter- terrorism, security and connectivity.
Earlier on Thursday, President Ram Nath Kovind hosted a lunch in honour of ASEAN leaders, who along with Modi also participated in a retreat session during which the leaders had a “free and frank” discussion on “maritime cooperation and security”.
According to reports, Modi had also had bilateral meetings with six ASEAN leaders, including his counterparts from Thailand and Singapore, which is the current chair of the ASEAN grouping.