For the first time, 10 Chief Guests present at Republic Day Parade


He and other Asean leaders attended India's Republic Day Parade yesterday as chief guests of the country.

Also displayed during the parade were the indigenous T-90 battle tanks, the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles developed jointly with Russian Federation and the nuclear-capable Agni missile series.

India is hosting the 25th anniversary of its joining the ASEAN for which the heads-of-States have been in New Delhi where unprecedented security measures have been put in place.

The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the 10 Asean member states and the six countries with which Asean has FTAs - Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Expressing concerns over the growing radicalisation of youth and terror attacks, the ten ASEAN countries on Friday collectively chose to join hands in combating the menace.

The parade showcasing India's military prowess and cultural diversity was preceded by the President's award of the Ashok Chakra, the highest peacetime military award, posthumously to Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala, an Air Force Garud commando.

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Regional security and peace also figured prominently in the bilateral meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Malaysian PM Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host 10 leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN as guests of honour at the ceremonial parade in Rajpath. The two first reached summit level interactions 15 years ago, and five years ago they formed a strategic partnership. "Investments from ASEAN and India are robust and growing", the Indian leader said.

The summit also agreed to deepen cooperation in combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, violent extremism and radicalisation through information sharing, law enforcement cooperation and capacity building under the existing ASEAN-led mechanisms.

Modi also called for respect for global law, especially the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), while stating that the Asean is at the centre of New Delhi's Act East Policy.

India invited Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, to be guest of honour at the Republic Day parade last year, while French president Francois Hollande was the guest leader in 2016, and USA president Barack Obama the year before that.

As Asean chair, Singapore will facilitate the deal "as an honest-broker coordinator", he added.