Vice President Hamid Ansari on Sunday embarked on a five-day visit to Indonesia and Brunei to further boost India’s ties with the two Southeast Asian nations as a part of its “Act East Policy.
Indonesia will be the first stopover for the vice president, who is going there at the invitation of his Indonesian counterpart Jusuf Kalla.
Vice President Ansari will be in Indonesia from November 1 to November 4, and his visit to that country is essentially to carry forward the ongoing bilateral engagement with strategic partner Indonesia at the highest level.
He is going to Indonesia at the invitation of his Indonesian counterpart Kalla, India and Indonesia have had close ties since the times of Prime Minister Jawharlal Nehru and President Sukarno, Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs said.
In Indonesia, Vice President Ansari would also be meeting President Joko Widodo, his counterpart there Jusuf Kalla and the Speakers of the two Houses of the country’s Parliament.
The Vice President is also expected to visit the historical Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta. He will also visit Bali where he would inaugurate a bust of Mahatama Gandhi at Uddiyana University on November 3 and will also address students there.
During his meetings with the Indonesian leadership, Vice President Ansari will be reaffirming India’s commitment to strengthen and consolidate its strategic and economic relationship with Indonesia, which has emerged as the second largest trading partner of New Delhi in the ASEAN region.
Bilateral trade between the two countries has witnessed a five-fold increase from USD 4.3 billion in 2005-06 to about USD 20 billion in 2014-15. India is also the largest buyer of crude palm oil and coal from Indonesia. It also imports minerals, rubber, pulp and paper, and hydrocarbons.
New Delhi exports refined petroleum products, maze, commercial vehicles, telecommunication equipment, animal feed, cotton, steel products, plastics and pharmaceuticals in bulk formulations to Indonesia.
From Indonesia, Vice President Ansari will then move on to Brunei, where he will be from November 4 to November 6. This will be the highest-level bilateral visit by an Indian official ever recorded to the tiny, oil-rich sultanate, though former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did attend a round of Asian summitry there when Brunei hosted ASEAN back in 2013.