In the 1970s and 1980s, India's close ties with the Soviet Union and its pro-Soviet, pro-Vietnamese policies toward Cambodia precluded development of any constructive relations between India on the one hand and the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN--see Glossary) on the other. Furthermore, India's military buildup, particularly of its naval capabilities and naval installations in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, worried ASEAN policy makers, who saw India as a potential threat to regional security. Indian-ASEAN relations improved in the 1990s as the result of the end of the bipolar world system, the UN-brokered peace settlement in Cambodia, and the breakup of the Soviet Union. For its part, New Delhi sought to boost economic and trade ties with the region and to establish closer political and defense ties in order to counteract China's growing influence in Southeast Asia. ASEAN countries grew less concerned with India's regional ambitions after New Delhi's decision to curtail its naval buildup because of financial restraints. In January 1992, ASEAN accepted India's proposal to become a "sectoral dialogue partner" in the areas of trade, technical and labor development, technology, and tourism. India's new role was expected to facilitate economic cooperation. In January 1993, India and Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation.
India has had close ties with Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam as a result of its 1954-73 chairmanship of the International Commissions of Control and Supervision established by the 1954 Geneva Accords on Indochina. These relations were enhanced by India's friendship with the Soviet Union, particularly after 1971 and, in the case of Vietnam, shared perceptions of the threat from China. With regard to Cambodia, India recognized the Vietnamese-installed regime in 1980 and worked to avert censure of the regime in the annual UN General Assembly and triennial Nonaligned Movement summit meetings. In the late 1980s, Indian diplomats attempted to facilitate the search for peace in Cambodia, and India participated in the 1989 Paris Peace Conference on Cambodia and in subsequent efforts to find a solution to the Cambodian situation. New Delhi played a minor but nevertheless constructive role before and after the Agreement on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict and three other documents were signed in Paris on October 23, 1991. India contributed more than 1,700 civilian, military, and police personnel to the United Nations Advanced Mission in Cambodia and the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia.
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