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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence says America has a steadfast and enduring commitment to the Indo-Pacific region but wants cooperation, not control.

Key players in Asean such as Singapore, in fact, took the lead in engaging India on economic and security issues more than two decades ago and, subsequently, getting India to join the East Asia Summit. He pledged to put more economic, diplomatic and political pressure on China if Beijing fails to make "significant and concrete concessions that address not just the trade deficit that we face". "Both sides agreed that there had been a substantial enhancement in our defence relationship, in our imports of equipment from the USA, but the prime minister in particular stressed that there was a great opportunity for the U.S. in India in making defence equipment and setting up defence industry in India".

The prime minister expressed hope that the Donald Trump administration would recognise defence as a new economic opportunity, he said.

But with the USA retreating behind protectionism under the Trump administration, China has stepped into the space it has vacated as the champion of global free trade.

In Wednesday's meeting, Moon and Putin were expected to discuss ways to get the denuclearization talks restarted at an early date, as well as measures to further strengthen relations between the two countries.

Later briefing reporters, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said it was a "very good" meeting.

Pence felt that India is a positive factor in regional and global relations and said the U.S. looks forward to working with India on various issues to ensure that "we have a fair rules-based worldwide order". Prime Minister reciprocated that sentiment, Gokhale said.

"My participation in these meetings symbolises our continued commitment to strengthening our engagement with ASEAN member states and with the wider Indo-Pacific region".

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"Prime Minister referred to his speech here in Singapore in June at the Shangri-La Dialogue in which he had outlined India's vision of the Indo-Pacific", Gokhale said.

He conveyed to Pence that his vision of Indo-Pacific was gaining acceptability and that "we should utilise the forthcoming East Asia summit to further build on that".

While the regional leaders are discussing trade deals in Singapore, the summit through Thursday will probably only produce a joint statement rather than substantive deals, said Oh Ei Sun, global studies instructor at Singapore Nanyang University. They also discussed counter-terrorism cooperation and ways to boost trade, with India indicating interest in expanding the newly initiated imports of oil and gas from the United States, now valued at US$4 billion (S$5.5 billion).

Seoul has worked hard to revive nuclear negotiations between the US and North Korea that have reduced fears of war in South Korea following a series of North Korean weapons tests and threats of military action by Trump past year.

Considering that the existence of the Sakkanmol base had been well-known to intelligence agencies in the US and South Korea, experts noted that the timing of the report reflects the Washington establishment's critical view of Trump's rapprochement with North Korea.

He said that the United States tries to promote this vision by notably spurring private investment in infrastructure and pursuing trade which is "free, fair, and reciprocal".

There was also some discussion on the issue of terrorism and Pence referred to the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks, known as 26/11, later this month.

North Korea has taken some steps since then - forgoing nuclear and missile tests, dismantling a missile test site and promising to also break up the country's main nuclear complex if the U.S. makes concessions.


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