As part of its “Look East” policy, India has been increasing strategic ties with countries such as Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.
The two-day summit beginning on Thursday is expected to adopt the 'ASEAN-India Vision Statement 2020', which will also commit both sides to great security cooperation.
According to experts, "Some countries in ASEAN will be looking to India for support on the South China sea. Particularly, they would like India to emphasise that it considers freedom of navigation as a fundamental interest in the South China sea. They will be looking to India to possibly for some capacity-building support, either training or military equipment."
Last week when external affairs minister Salman Khurshid visited Myanmar, India is proposed deeper defense ties with Myanmar after visits by high-ranking military officials.
In a bid to emphasize its strategic reliability Khurshid emphasized the benefits of bilateral defense cooperation, noting that India's army, navy and air forces service chiefs have all recently visited Myanmar and defence minister AK Antony is to visit Myanmar in January and President Thein Sein of that country is here in New Delhi for the India-ASEAN summit.
Myanmar currently imports its weaponry. Earlier this month, the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls reported that Myanmar has used M-3 Carl Gustav anti-tank weapons, manufactured by Saab Bofors Dynamics, part of the Saab group and one of the world's top 30 producers of armaments, in its battles against Kachin guerrillas, who provided the physical evidence of the weaponry's deployment.
But India's "Look East" policy and a need to lock down energy supplies for its rapidly growing industrial sector are pushing it to gradually step up military activities in the region with more joint exercises and visits.
In his annual press conference, earlier this month, naval chief Admiral DK Joshi said his force was ready to deploy naval vessels to the South China Sea to protect its oil-exploration interests there if needed.
India is exploring an oil and gas block with Vietnam in the disputed waters and in future is likely to bring more liquefied natural gas through the Malacca Straits. Khurshid said that along with counter-terrorism, energy security was among India's top foreign policy priorities.
"We have become far more resource orientated because development is of course heavily dependent on resources. We import 80 % of our fuel," Khurshid said.
According to Ian Storey, senior fellow of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, India had yet