Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Singaporean premier Lee Hsien Loong were among the nine ASEAN leaders who arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday, a day ahead of the India-ASEAN summit.
Nine ASEAN leaders arrived in New Delhi for the summit and only Indonesian president Joko Widodo would come on Thursday, the day of the summit.
In an unprecedented event, all the 10 ASEAN leaders will also be the chief guests at the Republic Day parade.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar posted a series of tweets on the arrival of these leaders.
“India welcomes Prime Minister of Vietnam, Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Madame Tran Nguyen Thu for the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit. Warmly received by Minister of State for Human Resource Development Satyapal Singh,” he tweeted.
While Aung San Suu Kyi was received by Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Anupriya Patel, Thailand prime minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and his wife Naraporn Chan-o-cha were welcomed by Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh, Kumar said.
President of Philippines Rodrigo Duterte was also received by Satyapal Singh.
Singaporean premier Lee, Lao PDR’s Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Malaysian premier Nazib Razak, Brunei Darussalam’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen also arrived in New Delhi for the summit on Thursday.
The highest-level of participation at the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit, to mark the 25 years of India-ASEAN ties, 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 summit is expected to give boost to India-ASEAN cooperation in key areas of counter-terrorism, security and connectivity.
There will be a leaders’ retreat during which the leaders will have a “free and frank” discussion on 25 January. The theme of the retreat session is ‘maritime cooperation and security’.
Following the retreat, a plenary session will be held on the same day.
ASEAN comprises Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Laos and Brunei.
In the run-up to the summit, various programmes in different areas ranging from culture to trade have been organised by India.
According to officials, before the summit, discussions are also being held between the working groups of India and ASEAN to step up air and maritime connectivity.