Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised the importance of regional cooperation as he addressed the 18th ASEAN-India summit virtually.
On Wednesday, Modi had referred to the same theme as he addressed the East Asia Summit (EAS). The EAS consists of the ASEAN nations as well as India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the US and Russia.
Modi said on Thursday that the many challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic were also a test of the friendship between India and ASEAN. "Our mutual cooperation in COVID era will keep strengthening our relations in future and form base for goodwill between our people," Modi was quoted as saying by ANI.
"History is witness that India and ASEAN have had vibrant relations for thousands of years. Their glimpses show our shared values, traditions, languages, texts, architecture, culture, food and drink. The unity and centrality of ASEAN has always been an important priority for India," Modi said.
Modi declared that 2022 would be celebrated by India as the 'year of ASEAN-India friendship' to mark the milestone of 30 years of New Delhi's partnership with the regional grouping.