Jayant N Khobragade, an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer of the 1995 batch, has been appointed as India’s next Ambassador to ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday. Khobragade is currently serving as joint secretary at headquarters of the ministry in Delhi.
“He is expected to take up his assignment shortly,” it said in a release. Last year, India had proposed his name as the charge d’affaires of the Indian mission in Islamabad but Pakistan did not give consent to it. The Indian and Pakistani high commissions in Islamabad and Delhi are being headed by their respective charge d’affaires after Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties following India’s decision to withdraw special powers of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019.
Khobragade’s appointment as Ambassador to ASEAN Secretariat is seen as an important one. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region, and India and several other countries including the US, China, Japan and Australia are its dialogue partners.
The summit is taking place amid China’s aggressive behaviour in the disputed South China Sea as well as in eastern Ladakh. A number of ASEAN countries have territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea. The 10 member countries of ASEAN are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia The ties between India and ASEAN have been on an upswing in the last few years with focus being on ramping up cooperation in the areas of trade and investment as well as security and defence.
The ASEAN region along with India together comprises a combined population of 1.85 billion people, which is one fourth of the global population and their combined GDP has been estimated at over USD 3.8 trillion.