Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, in welcoming India's commitment and engagement with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), said: "We want to see more of India's presence in Southeast Asia, not only politically but economically. "India has a formidable presence in the Indo-Pacific by virtue of its size, economy and its willingness to assume a greater role on the world stage." Binh Minh was addressing a gathering at leading think-tank Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) here Friday.
At the event, the foreign minister referred to territorial disputes between China and a number of countries straddling South China sea and East China sea, and stressed on freedom of navigation in the area. Binh Minh welcomed India's stand opposing use of force to settle territorial disputes in the region and said East China sea, with its natural resources like oil and fisheries, is of "utmost importance" to "global commons" as is the sovereignty of countries in the region. "With a more active India cooperating with Asean, we can dream of a vast Indo-Pacific with strong linkages, efficient connectivity and shared prosperity and peace," he said. Binh said India's 'Look East' policy has played a constructive role in Asean though security initiatives and economic cooperation, and expressed hope to work with the policy to tap potential between Asean and India. Binh was in India for the 15th Meeting of the India-Vietnam Joint Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation (JCM) from July 10 to 12. --BERNAMA EE