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India to review RCEP as PM heads to Singapore 

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will head to Singapore this week for the second time since his keynote address at the Shangri la Dialogue in June. 

During his 36-hour visit, Modi would deliberate on key trade agreement RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) negotiations. On Wednesday after arrival in Singapore, Modi would be first head of government to address the third edition of the Singapore Fintech Summit. He will also meet participants of Asean-India hackathon.

Vijay Thakur Singh, Secretary East in Ministry of External Affairs, said, “This time we are looking to launch the platform APIX. The ASEAN countries have put together their financial institutions on one platform. The prime minister would be launching that link with the Indian financial institutions.” 

Later, Modi would hold discussions with top leaders from RCEP bloc that includes 10 ASEAN members and six FTA (Free Trade Agreement) partners – India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Negotiations are ongoing since 2012 but still less likely to be concluded. “The parties are likely to try and reach consensus on the most positive statement around momentum and leave conclusion for next year. ASEAN countries feel Japan and China need to do more, but India could take leadership to help conclude this,” said a foreign diplomat.

Modi would also hold bilateral talks along with US Vice President Mike Pence on November 14. Modi and US President Donald Trump last held a telephonic conversation in February this year.There is an opportunity for the two to meet along sidelines of upcoming G20 summit in Argentina end November. The Modi-Pence meeting comes days after temporary waiver granted by US to India and seven others from sanctions against oil trade with Iran as well as a carve out on the Chabahar port project to Delhi. 

On November 15, PM Modi would participate in an ASEAN- India breakfast summit, 13th East Asia summit lunch retreat as well as formal plenary session. The summit would focus on Information and Communications Technology, smart cities, maritime co-operation and cross border terrorism. 

Meanwhile, Joint Secretaries from India, US, Australia and Japan would hold third round of revived Quadrilateral talks along sidelines. Speaking of the Quad meeting, Singh underlined India’s vision of the Indo-Pacific is based on principles of an ‘open, free, progressive and inclusive region which respects international law’.


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