India's Indo Pacific Oceans Initiative and ASEAN's Outlook for the Indo-Pacific were framework for a shared vision, PM Modi said

The unity and centrality of ASEAN has always been an important priority for India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday.

"We all faced a lot of challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But this challenging time in a way was also the test of India-ASEAN friendship," PM Modi said at the 18th India-ASEAN Summit.

"Our mutual cooperation and mutual sympathy since Covid times will continue to strengthen our relationship in future and will be the basis of goodwill among our people," he added.

The Prime Minister also pointed out that India's Indo Pacific Oceans Initiative and ASEAN's Outlook for the Indo-Pacific were the framework for a shared vision and mutual cooperation in this region.

He referred to the special role of ASEAN as well as India's Act East Policy which is contained in the Security and Growth for All in the Region, or "SAGAR" policy.

Pointing out that history was witness that India and ASEAN have had vibrant relations for thousands of years, PM Modi said this was also reflected in shared values, traditions, languages, texts, architecture, culture, and cuisine.

"The year 2022 will mark the completion of 30 years of our partnership. India will also complete seventy-five years of its independence. I am very happy that we will celebrate this important milestone as the 'Year of ASEAN-India Friendship'," PM Modi said.

"This year too, we have not been able to take our traditional family photo, but virtually, we have maintained the continuity of the tradition of ASEAN-India summit," he said, referring to the virtual format of the meet.

India was committed to further strengthen ties under the forthcoming Presidency of Cambodia and our Country Coordinator, Singapore, he said.

He congratulated the Sultan of Brunei for his successful presidency of ASEAN in 2021.