PM Modi arrives at Breakfast Summit with ASEAN leaders

PM Modi shakes hands with US Vice President Mike Pence during their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Singapore on Wednesday

India and the United States on Wednesday pledged to further strengthen economic cooperation and increase engagement in the oil and energy sector with a view to boost bilateral trade. Key players in Asean such as Singapore, in fact, took the lead in engaging India on economic and security issues more than two decades ago and, subsequently, getting India to join the East Asia Summit.

Asian nations gave up hopes of completing a 16-nation trade bloc this year, with Chinese and Australian officials now looking to finalize the deal in 2019.China and the USA could find a solution to their trade differences that benefits both sides, Premier Li Keqiang said.

Pence specifically acknowledged that India has made substantial progress economically as well as diplomatically in regional and global affairs, and said the USA looks forward to working with India on various issues both on political and economic side to ensure "a fair-rules based worldwide order".

"There was some good understanding of the areas of how we move forward in building cooperation on counter terrorism and both countries recognised that this is a challenge which we have to fight together and to fight along with the rest of the worldwide community", Gokhale said. "We agreed that in a new relationship we are building with the USA where trade is expanding, we need to find ways in which we can help that process to take place", Gokhale said.

"We seek an Indo-Pacific where every nation ... is free to follow its own path and pursue its own interests, where the seas and skies are open to all engaged in peaceful activity, and where sovereign nations grow stronger together", Pence said at a news conference in Tokyo.

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Koh said also that many of his counterparts in Southeast Asia were uneasy about the United States' Indo-Pacific strategy, whose primary aim was to contain China. The two sides also held brief discussions on bilateral trade, and "agreed that there was a need to identify ways in which India and the United States can go about building a new relationship".

The defence sector was another area of cooperation between the two sides.

The APIX will support banks to reach out to those without bank accounts in 23 countries including the 10 ASEAN members as well as major markets such as India, and small nations including Fiji, said Nikhil Menon, Virtusa's senior vice president and Asia regional head.

Pence felt that India is a positive factor in regional and worldwide relations and said U.S. looks forward to working with India on various issues both on political and economic sides to ensure that "we have a fair rules-based global order", he said.

The Indo-Pacific region also come up for discussion and Modi referred to his June speech in Singapore at IISS Shangrila Dialogue in which he had outlined India's vision on Indo-Pacific. "I am looking forward to my interactions with other ASEAN and East Asia Summit leaders", Modi said in his departure statement issued Tuesday. "There were some discussions on how we should enhance this sort of trade".

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