Taking part in the NADI 3 Asian Confluence River Conclave 2022 began in Guwahati on May 28 Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar stressed the need for more collaborations between Northeast India, Bangladesh and ASEAN countries.
“What happens when the Northeast, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar get more deeply inter-twined – each of them stands to benefit from more access, opportunities, resources and markets. These endeavours will literally bring ASEAN closer to us,” said Jaishankar in his inaugural speech.
The two-day conclave is being organised by Shillong-based think tank Asian Confluence in collaboration with the union ministry of external affairs, Act East Policy affairs department of the Assam government, North Eastern Council and other partners.
The Bangladesh Foundation for Regional Studies is the country partner for the event and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IIT Guwahati and Guwahati University are knowledge partners.
Jaishankar further said: “Diplomacy is not just about bridging positions through wordsmithery. It is equally about bridging societies through projects. It is about connectivity, it is about contacts, it is about cooperation.”
“Today, I have the privilege of both sharing some big picture thoughts what regional cooperation has to offer as well as detailing activities what make it possible which is only fitting if I do so in Guwahati in the presence of the (Assam) Chief Minister.”
Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Memon, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, high commissioner of Singapore to India Simon Wong, ambassador of Cambodia to India Ung Sean, Assam minister of trade, industry and act east affairs Chandramohan Patowary, chairman of the governing council, Asian Confluence MP Bezbaruah and executive director of Asian Confluence Sabyasachi Dutta were also present during the inaugural session.
“The participation of my Bangladeshi counterpart only highlights the indispensable role of his nation as a partner in this regard. Equally relevant is the presence of the ASEAN ambassadors with us. The presence of our Japanese colleagues brings out the catalytic role that our Quad-partner can play,” Jaishankar said.
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the Northeast, including Assam, not only provides the only land link between India and ASEAN region but also acts as a cultural and civilisational bridge.
“I congratulate the organisers Asian Confluence for this remarkable initiative (NADI 3) that brings together policymakers, scientists, international organisations, civil society, trade bodies and academia to brainstorm on the common challenges and to foster regional cooperation for sustainable development,” said the CM.
“Due to its strategic location, Assam provides a great opportunity for economic growth.”
NADI (Natural Allies in Development and Interdependence) is an initiative to articulate and activate a collective vision of sub-regional cooperation in the Bay of Bengal region and with South-East Asia. It recognizes the region south of the Himalayas from Ganga, Brahmaputra to Mekong as contiguity of river basins with common challenges that require close cooperation beyond their political borders.
It is also aimed at building confidence in the key role of the Northeastern Indian region in taking forward strategic initiatives for energy and water security in the neighbourhood, and the Bay of Bengal region leading towards a vibrant and secure Indo-Pacific.