PM travels to Cambodia for regional summits


New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh travels to Cambodia Sunday for the ASEAN and East Asia summits during which he is likely to hold bilateral talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and other leaders.

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The prime minister travels to Cambodia Nov 18-20 for the 10th ASEAN-India Summit and the 7th East Asia Summit.

With 50,000 ships using the international waters, especially the Strait of Malacca, for trade, maritime security will figure high on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s agenda at the East Asia Summit.

Earlier, the prime minister’s visit to Japan Nov 15-18 for the annual bilateral summit had to be postponed in the wake of sudden political developments in that country. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on Friday announced dissolution of parliament and general elections.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to hold bilateral talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh Nov 19, official sources said.

Efforts are also on to fix a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama during the summit, the sources said.

Obama will visit Myanmar on Monday, becoming the first US president ever to do so. He will also travel to Cambodia to attend the East Asia and ASEAN summits.

Besides maritime security, the other important sectors for collaboration at the East Asia Summit would be in energy, education, disaster management and pandemics, including tackling malaria, a major killer, said an official of the external affairs ministry.

The prime minister will also discuss regional and international issues with other leaders during retreat sessions at the East Asia Summit, that comprises 18 countries, including the ASEAN as well as India, the US and Russia.

The summit will also consider adoption of a Phnom Penh Declaration as well as one on regional response to malaria control, and on the launch of a regional comprehensive economic partnership, the official added.

At the ASEAN-India Summit, capacity building, connectivity and furthering economic growth and peace and stability will be on the agenda.

Manmohan Singh would meet his ASEAN counterparts Nov 19 for the ASEAN-India Summit where they will take cognizance of their discussions at the last summit in Bali.

Trade between the 10-nation ASEAN bloc and India in 2011-12 was worth $79 billion, surpassing the $70 billion target set earlier.

India and ASEAN have a Free Trade Agreement in goods, inked in 2009 and which became operational in 2011, and negotiations are on on an FTA in services and investments.

At the East Asia Summit, an update on the Nalanda University will also be provided. The university is coming up in Bihar’s Nalanda. A steering committee is overseeing its global design, he said.