Financial inclusion has become a reality for 1.3 bn Indians: PM Modi

Elias Hubbard
November 15, 2018

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong opened the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit with a warning that seemed directed at U.S. President Donald Trump, saying major powers were "resorting to unilateral actions and bilateral deals and even explicitly repudiating multilateral approaches and institutions". But significantly, Mr Modi pitched for United States cooperation in making India a hub for making defence equipment.

"To Asians, turning up for a meeting is significant", Koh, a lawyer and ambassador-at-large at Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at an event on Wednesday in the city state.

The US trade war with China has sparked tit-for-tat tariffs that threaten world growth.

In contrast with Trump's preference for bilateral dealings and distrust of worldwide institutions, the meetings in Singapore have championed a commitment to free trade and a multilateral approach to coping with myriad issues, from cybercrime and terrorism to maritime security and e-commerce.

Tackling criticism against the trade tariffs, Ms Campbell said Washington was seeking to make free trade fair.

The Prime Minister is expected to speak to an expected audience of almost 40,000 people on the third day of the conference, November 14, Wednesday.

"This trip is about making sure the region really understands what we're talking about when we're talking about freedom in the Indo-Pacific".

The Indo-Pacific region also come up for discussion and Modi referred to his June speech in Singapore at IISS Shangrila Dialogue in which he had outlined India's vision on Indo-Pacific. Modi also conveyed to Pence that this vision was gaining acceptability and that "we should utilize the upcoming East Asia Summit to further build up on that".

While the Singapore meetings were typically focused on cooperation and goodwill, concerns over Myanmar's treatment of its ethnic Rohingya Muslims flared with unusually sharp comments to the country's leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

On bilateral issues, the two sides had brief discussions on trade related matters. The trade gap is on course to further reduce this year.

"We have begun importing oil and gas from United States. It is expected to be valued about $4 billion this year and we expressed our readiness to import more oil and more gas from the United States as a way of expanding our trade", Gokhale said. India also has to balance all moves for stronger strategic relations with Asean states with the recent improvement of its ties with China, especially after the nadir represented by the Doklam standoff of past year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today told United States Vice-President Mike Pence that Pakistan's act of "mainstreaming terrorists involved in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks" was a matter of serious concern for the global community.

"There was some good understanding of the areas of how we move forward in building cooperation on counter terrorism and both countries recognised that this is a challenge which we have to fight together and to fight along with the rest of the global community", Gokhale said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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