two countries such as deep sea exploration to building knowledge based economies based on
      science and technology, innovation, robotics and artificial intelligence, focussing on
      infrastructure, skill development, agriculture, shipbuilding, railways, aviation and greater
      connectivity. The 12th India-Japan annual summit in September 2017 witnessed the laying of
      foundation stone for India’s first high-speed rail project in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. It also restated
      the commitment of both countries towards achieving a “free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific
      region where sovereignty and international law are respected.” Similarly, India and the EU are
      also celebrating 55 years of establishing diplomatic relations and witnessed participation of the
      President of the European Council and the European Commission for the 14th India-EU summit
      in October 2017. The summit reflected growing convergence between the two on regional and
      international issues and focused, inter alia, on closer cooperation on counter-terrorism actions
      and adopted a Joint Statement on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism.
            India’s diplomatic outreach was also marked by simultaneous engagement with countries to
      the regions—East, West and South. In pursuance of our “Act East” policy, the Prime Minister
      attended the 15th ASEAN-India Summit and 12th East Asia Summit (EAS) in Manila in
      November 2017. There is a strong emphasis on connectivity and stronger integration, and
      building partnerships to address traditional and non-traditional security threats in the region.
      Yearlong celebrations marked the 25th anniversary of ASEAN-India dialogue partnership. The
      Government also hosted the landmark ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in January 2018,
      with all the ten ASEAN Heads of States participating as Guests of Honour at the Republic Day
      celebrations.
            Prime Minister paid the first ever visit to Israel in July 2017, upgrading the relationship to a
      strategic level. The two countries signed key agreements to step up cooperation in space,
      agriculture and water conservation. An MoU was also signed for setting up of India-Israel
      Industrial Research and Development and Technical Innovation Fund worth US$ 40 million.
            In West Asia and the Gulf, the past year saw a visit by Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to India
      as the Chief Guest for the Republic Day celebrations in 2017. During the visit, the two countries
      decided to elevate the ties to the level of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, marking the
      Gulf’s second largest economy as India’s pre-eminent partner in both strategic and economic
      arenas.
            The period under review also saw the inauguration of the first phase of the Chabahar port
      project in Iran. The maiden consignment of 15,000 tonnes of wheat was shipped to Afghanistan
      through the Chabahar port in November 2017. Along with the establishment of the India-
      Afghanistan air-freight corridor, innovative initiatives with regional partners in Central Asia on
      the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), will pave the way for
      operationalisation of the Chabahar port as an alternate, reliable and robust connectivity hub, and
      promote trade and transit with the countries in the wider region.
            India’s outreach to Central Asia saw further progress with the Prime Minister visiting
      Kazakhstan for the 17th SCO Summit in Astana in June 2017, where India was admitted as a full
      member of the SCO. Counter-terrorism has emerged as a crucial area of cooperation with the
      countries in the Central Asia region, with joint working groups on counter-terrorism with
      Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Furthermore, strong relations have been established in textiles,
      metallurgy, hydrocarbons, mineral processing, IT, food processing, etc.
            The Indian Ocean region remains a priority and an important cornerstone of India’s