Phnom Penh, Cambodia, External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar undertook a visit to Cambodia from August 3-5 to attend the annual ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AIFMM). The AIFMM was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in the afternoon of August 4.
The Meeting was co-chaired by EAM and Singaporean Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and was attended by Foreign Ministers/representatives from other ASEAN member states.
Taking forward their discussions at the Special ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting hosted by India in New Delhi in June 2022 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-India relations this year, the AIFMM deliberated on ways to elevate ASEAN-India cooperation in the post pandemic era, including enhancing cooperation in areas of smart agriculture, healthcare, new & renewable energy, digital inclusivity and fintech. The Ministers also shared views on important regional and international issues of mutual interest and discussed preparations for the upcoming ASEAN-India Summit.
In his remarks, EAM appreciated the Cambodian Chairship of ASEAN this year, under the theme ‘ASEAN ACT: Addressing Challenges Together’. He highlighted the importance India places on ASEAN as important pillar of regional, multilateral and global order. EAM reiterated India’s support for ASEAN unity and centrality in a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific. Noting the strong convergence between ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) he called for greater cooperation between India and ASAEN in the Indo-Pacific.
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers appreciated India’s consistent support to ASEAN and looked forward to working together to further strengthen ASEAN-India relations.
During the visit EAM also called on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and discussed bilateral and global issues of mutual interest. EAM also had bilateral interactions with his counterparts from Australia, Sri Lanka, US and Vietnam.
Prior to his visit to Phnom Penh, EAM stopped at Siem Reap on August 3 where he visited the heritage sites of Ta Prohm Temple and Angkor Wat Temple. He examined the restoration and conservation work at these cultural heritage sites, by the Archaeological Survey of India.
He also visited the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) Asian Traditional Textile Museum in Siem Reap which was setup by India along with Cambodia and other MGC partner countries and assured India’s continued support to the project.
The ASEAN related Ministerial Meetings in Phnom Penh also included the 12th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the 29th ASEAN Regional Forum Ministerial Meeting on August 5. Secretary (East) led the Indian delegation at these meetings.
The 12th EAS FMM discussed ways and means to strengthen the Leaders-led EAS platform to make it more responsive to emerging challenges. The Meeting exchanged views on the current regional and international developments and geo-political challenges as well as reviewed the preparations for a new EAS Plan of Action. Preparations for the upcoming 17th EAS Summit scheduled in November 2022, were also discussed.
The 29th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) exchanged views on international and regional issues, as well as future direction of the ARF. It adopted two Statements viz. the ARF Statement on Promoting Peace, Stability and Prosperity in the Region through Preventive Measures and the ARF Statement on Supporting the Preservation of the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (SEANWFZ).
As part of India’s engagement with ARF, India had co-chaired the 13th ARF Inter-Sessional Meeting on Maritime Security on May 12, and will co-chair the workshop series on International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) during the year 2022 – 2023.
Overall, EAM’s visit to Cambodia was fruitful and strengthened India’s bilateral and multilateral relations in the Indo-Pacific.