Phnom Penh: Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar on Saturday highlighted the importance of ASEAN as an important pillar of regional, multilateral global order.

Dhankar celebrated the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit today, celebrating 30 years of India-ASEAN Partnership with the ASEAN member states' leaders.

In his opening remarks, he said, "India places great value on ASEAN as an important pillar of regional, multilateral global order."

Describing the group's centrality in the evolving architecture in the Indo-Pacific, he said, "India supports ASEAN centrality in the evolving architecture in the Indo-Pacific. India and ASEAN share the common vision of ensuring peace, prosperity and stability in the region. As we look ahead, we see an uncertain geopolitical landscape which cannot be whisked away. To navigate it, we must expand our cooperation and deepen our strategic trust. Our comprehensive, strategic partnership should provide a path for this."

The Vice President also underscored India's special focus on Southeast Asia through the Act East policy that was shaped in the 1990s.

"I look forward to working to further enhance India-ASEAN cooperation. It is the central pillar of India's Act East policy, which occurred in the era of reforms in India in the 1990s. The cultural, economic and civilizational ties that have existed between India and Southeast Asia since time immemorial, provided the strong foundation to build our partnership in modern times - from a sectoral partnership in 1992 to a comprehensive, strategic partnership in 2022."

He also highlighted three decades of multifaceted, multidimensional growth in ASEAN-India engagements, he said, "from connectivity to climate change, security to space, education to ecology and technology to trade, showcase a desire to deepen our cooperation for a better and brighter future."

Meanwhile, in a meeting held between Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, four MoUs/agreements were signed in areas of culture, wildlife and health.

"Wide-ranging discussions on bilateral ties including human resource, de-mining & development projects. Leaders witnessed the exchange of 4 MoUs/agreements in areas of culture, wildlife & health," tweeted the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.

Following the meeting, the MoUs were exchanged in presence of the dignitaries - An MOU between the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India and the Ministry of Health, Cambodia for Cooperation in the Field of Health and Medicine; An MOU between the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, India and Ministry of Environment, Cambodia for Cooperation in Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Wildlife Management, which will lead to a reintroduction of tigers in Cambodia; An MoU between IIT, Jodhpur, and Institute of Technology, Cambodia in the field of Research, Development and Application of Technology for Digital Documentation of Cultural Heritage; and a Financing Agreement on Conservation and Preservation of Wat Raja Bo Pagoda Paintings in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

"On the occasion of this commemorative summit and as we celebrate the ASEAN-India friendship year, I take this opportunity to profoundly compliment all members of ASEAN colleagues for being our partners in the journey so far and look forward to closer cooperation as we chart our path for our future," said Dhankar.

Dhankhar also viewed the exhibition of paintings of the ASEAN-India Artists Group at Chakto Mukh Conference Hall in Phnom Penh earlier and participated at a cultural event in Phnom Penh accompanied by Dr Sudesh Dhankhar (his spouse), Dr Phoeurng Sackona, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, Cambodia and External Affairs Minister, Dr S Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister.

This Summit is being hosted by Cambodia under the theme ACT (Addressing, Challenging, Together). This theme is aiming to counter regional issues, seeking prosperity, growth and stability among the states, in accordance with the main theme of ASEAN.

Cambodia has played an important role in India-ASEAN engagements, the 1st India-ASEAN Summit took place in 2002 during the first chairship of Cambodia.

This year marks a special milestone as India and ASEAN are celebrating the 30th anniversary of India-ASEAN relations. To commemorate the milestone, the year 2022 has been designated as Inda-ASEAN Friendship Year.