ASEAN Secretary-General's visit to India marks a new era in strategic partnership
The ASEAN Secretary-General will deliver the Sapru House Lecture, organized by the Indian Council of World Affairs
In a significant diplomatic engagement, Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is visiting India from February 11 to 15, 2024, following an invitation from the Government of India.
This will be the first official visit by Dr. Kao to India since assuming charge in January 2023, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Friday (February 9, 2024).
This visit symbolises a deepening of ties between India and ASEAN under the framework of their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
According to information released by the MEA, during his visit, Dr. Kao is scheduled to meet with India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and other high-ranking officials in Delhi. A highlight of his itinerary is the delivery of the Sapru House Lecture, organized by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), where he will address the theme "The ASEAN-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in the Evolving Regional Architecture."
This lecture is anticipated to offer insightful perspectives on the future trajectory of ASEAN-India relations amidst changing geopolitical dynamics.
Further enriching his visit, the Secretary-General will travel to the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya, a site of immense historical and cultural significance recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
Additionally, Dr. Kao is slated to speak at Nalanda University in Rajgir on "The Future of ASEAN: ASEAN's Relevance and Resilience in the Evolving Strategic Environment." His address at this renowned institution, where students from ASEAN member states pursue higher education under ASEAN-India cooperation projects, is expected to underscore the vitality of ASEAN's role in the regional strategic landscape. Nalanda University also spearheads the ASEAN-India Network of Universities (AINU), further cementing the educational and cultural exchanges between India and ASEAN nations.
India's engagement with ASEAN is a cornerstone of its Act East Policy, now in its 10th year, and is integral to its vision for a broader Indo-Pacific strategy. The elevation of ASEAN-India relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2022 has paved the way for enhanced collaboration across various domains.
India's steadfast support for ASEAN centrality and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) reflects its commitment to a free, open, and inclusive region. Furthermore, India endorses the priorities set by Lao PDR during its ASEAN Chairmanship in 2024, under the theme "ASEAN: Enhancing Connectivity and Resilience," emphasizing the mutual interests in fostering resilience and connectivity amidst the challenges of the 21st century.
Dr. Kao's visit witnesses the robust partnership between India and ASEAN and also a forward-looking endeavour to explore new avenues of cooperation that will benefit the region and beyond.