Duterte to visit India next week

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 Jan) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte will have a two-day visit in New Delhi, India, for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India Commemorative Summit next week.

This will be the President’s first foreign trip for 2018.

Duterte will join the other ASEAN leaders who will also grace the summit themed as “Shared Values, Common Destiny” on January 25 to culminate the year-long celebration of the 25th ASEAN-India Relations and India’s Republic Day the following day.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Hellen de La Vega told a press briefing in Malacañan Palace on Friday that India invites chief guests to its Republic Day, a celebration to commemorate its 1950 Constitution, and the Indian government invited the ASEAN leaders this year.

Among the prominent personalities invited to India’s Republic Day included the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II in 1961, late South African president Nelson Mandela in 1995, Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2007, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2014.

De la Vega said Duterte will arrive on January 24 in New Delhi and will have a dinner hosted by Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushwa Swaraj.

She added that Duterte will meet Indian President Ram Nath Kovind on January 25 and will hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi but details of the meeting have yet to be confirmed.

De la Vega said business agreements would be signed during the Philippine-India Business Forum on January 26.

The leaders of the 10-country ASEAN and India are expected to come out with Delhi Declaration, which serves as a roadmap for ASEAN-India cooperation in the areas of politics, economics, and culture, according to De la Vega.

Duterte chaired ASEAN last year.

De la Vega said India is an important dialogue partner of ASEAN, with areas of cooperation focusing on trade and investment, connectivity, agriculture, tourism, culture, science and technology, and climate change.

The ASEAN-India relations started in 1992 and became a full dialogue partner in 1995.

She said India was one of the first non-ASEAN signatories of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in 1976.

She said India continues to be an “important partner of ASEAN in the promotion of regional peace and stability” and participates in various ASEAN-led mechanisms, including the ASEAN Regional Forum, East Asia Summit, ASEAN Defense Minister Meeting Plus, and Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)