The first of its kind meeting between foreign secretary Harsh Shringla and the SE Asian ambassadors also discussed the centrality of Asean in the Indo-Pacific region and about finding convergences of the Asean Outlook on Indo-Pacific with the Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative, according to diplomatic sources from Southeast Asia who did not wish to be identified. China has pursued an aggressive policy in SE Asia simultaneously with the PLA build-up along the LAC. The timing of the meeting is significant as it was held on a day external affairs minister S Jaishankar held a marathon meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Moscow to defuse tensions along the border.
The luncheon meeting between the foreign secretary and the ten envoys took place even as Delhi’s Indo-Pacific outreach also received a boost through the Mutual Logistics Pact with Japan and the India-France-Australia trilateral. The situation on the LAC and India’s commitment to mutual disengagement and de-escalation were among other key items on the agenda, according to one of the people ET spoke to.
Maritime issues in the context of the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea, the situation in SE Asia and the necessity for a rules-based order were also understood to have been discussed. India’s land-link with SE Asia via trilateral highway through Myanmar came in for special praise by the envoy of Myanmar present at the meeting.