The ministers highlighted the importance of prioritizing digital, fintech, and food security

India's External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar has held productive discussions with his counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta over the past few days, reviewing progress in cooperation in areas such as fintech, food security, and maritime domains.

EAM Jaishankar was in the Indonesian capital to attend a meeting of the ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers which he co-chaired with Singapore's Indian-origin Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Thursday (July 13, 2023).

The ministers discussed a greater focus on digital, fintech, food security, and maritime domains, as well as exchanged views on the situation in Myanmar. Myanmar has been witnessing widespread protests demanding the restoration of democracy since the military seized power in a coup in February 2021. They will hold additional dialogues extending the issue in the Ministerial Roundtable in Singapore.

EAM Jaishankar described the ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers meeting as “warm and productive”. He further highlighted the implementation of discussions held and the targeted areas of focus extending to inter and intra country issues.

On the sidelines, EAM Jaishankar met Foreign Minister Bala separately. He noted the progress in implementing the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between India and Singapore. He also had a productive meeting with Brunei's Foreign Minister Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof, discussing the steady growth of bilateral cooperation and focusing on enhancing trade, food security, mobility, and space cooperation.

In a string of tweets, he expressed his pleasure in meeting Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai and discussing regional concerns and shared connectivity interests. He mentioned discussing economic issues and the Ukraine conflict with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He also met New Zealand's Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta and his South Korean counterpart Park Jin.

Earlier, on July 12, EAM Jaishankar held a series of meetings with his counterparts from several other countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Lao, Vietnam, and Australia. During his stay in Indonesia, he has been meeting his counterparts under the ASEAN framework in the format of ASEAN-India, East Asia Summit, and ASEAN Regional Forum.

After Jakarta, EAM Jaishankar will travel to Bangkok to participate in the 12th Foreign Ministers' Meeting of Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) Mechanism on July 16. The MGC is an initiative by India, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam to facilitate closer connections between the six member countries, which share the Ganga River and Mekong River basins.

EAM Jaishankar has further engagements planned in Bangkok. On July 17, he will be attending the BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers' Retreat. BIMSTEC, which stands for the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, is a regional initiative aimed at fostering effective collaboration and cooperation among member countries in the Bay of Bengal region.

The BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers' Retreat provides a valuable platform for participating nations to discuss and deliberate upon various aspects of the concerned agenda. The member states have defined the purpose of this upcoming retreat on social media platforms - to explore avenues for further deepening cooperation in trade, investment, connectivity, energy, and tourism. By bringing together the foreign ministers of BIMSTEC member countries, the retreat aims to integrate globalised exchanges of ideas and perspectives, leading to the s multilateral development of the organization as a whole.

The upcoming retreat will commence with engagements and discussions on strategies and initiatives aimed at strengthening regional integration and cooperation. The main objective of these discussions will be to identify specific measures that can contribute to economic growth, sustainable development, and people-to-people exchanges within the BIMSTEC framework. The participating foreign ministers aspire to reaffirm their commitment to the shared goals and principles of BIMSTEC and set a direction for its future endeavors through these deliberations.