File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photograph:( Zee News Network )
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who returned from Davos early morning Wednesday, will hold nine bilateral meetings with leaders of Southeast Asian countries on the sidelines of the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit with a focus on key areas of counter-terrorism, security and connectivity.
In an unprecedented event, all the ASEAN leaders will also be the chief guests at the Republic Day parade.
Modi will hold parleys with Vietnam prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, president of Philippines Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi tomorrow itself after their arrival here for the summit on January 25.
The prime minister will hold bilateral talks with the leaders of Thailand, Singapore and Brunei on Thursday, ahead of the summit.
Modi will also hold bilateral meetings with the leaders of Indonesia, Laos and Malaysia on Friday.
The highest-level of participation at the summit, to mark the 25 years of Indo-ASEAN ties, comes in the backdrop of increasing Chinese economic and military assertiveness in the region.
Some experts feel that the meet can be an opportunity for India to present itself as a powerful ally to these countries in the strategic areas of trade and connectivity.
There will be a leaders' retreat during which the leaders will have a "free and frank" discussion on January 25. The theme of the retreat session is 'maritime cooperation and security'.
Following the retreat, a plenary session will take place on the same day.
ASEAN comprises Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Laos and Brunei.
In the run-up to the summit, various programmes in different areas ranging from culture to trade have been organised by India.
According to officials, before the summit, discussions are also being held between the working groups of India and ASEAN to step up air and maritime connectivity.