KUALA LUMPUR: India has cleared the air on talk that it held divergent views on the East Asia Summit (EAS) process, stressing it has no intention of being in the driver’s seat.
Its Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said India was more interested in ensuring cooperation and mutual understanding.
“Of course this process is Asean-driven, no doubt about it,” he said.
“I believe the question of joint cooperation and mutual understanding is what is important.
“India, as a large country and economy, would like to play whatever role it can in the process and to ensure that any cooperation with Asean will move forward.
“The bottom line is greater economic and people-to-people cooperation.”
It was earlier reported that India wanted to play a significant role in the shaping of the East Asian community although it is not an East Asian country.
EAS is an expanded forum comprising Asean+3 (China, Japan and South Korea) along with India, New Zealand and Australia.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Asean Economic Ministers’ meeting yesterday, Kamal said the EAS was a positive effort that demonstrated greater integration and economic engagement with Asian nations.
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhao Xin said it respected the consensus that Asean should lead the EAS.
His Thai counterpart Kanthathi Suphamongkhon said that while the 10-member grouping should be in the driver’s seat, the process would nevertheless experience a “free-flow and spontaneous exchange of views.”
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