Washington : Ahead of the first trilateral consultation between India,Japan and the US here, India has said it will continue to deepen its engagement with the Asia-Pacific region. The upcoming consultations scheduled for Dec 19, "would help increase mutual understanding and enhance our cooperative endeavours", Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao said in an address Monday at University of California, Berkeley on 'India and the Asia-Pacific: Expanding engagement.'

With its growing economy and as a result of the efforts over the past two decades, India is today regionally well integrated with the existing institutional regional structures, Rao said.

"We also witness a greater interest within the countries of this region in strengthening relations with India, recognizing the strength of India - in terms of the growing size of our economy, achievements in science and technology and our contributions for the maintenance of peace and security.

"As we move towards an Asia-Pacific century, India will continue to deepen its engagement with the region as well as contribute to its overall prosperity, stability and security," she said.

Today, the scope of India's Look East policy has broadened to include the Far East and Pacific island nations extending from Australia to East Asia, with ASEAN at its core, Rao said noting the East Asia region including ASEAN is today India's largest trading partner.

Turning to India's relations with China Rao took note of Beijing's growing ability to project its military strength, its rapid military modernization and its visible and growing reach."

"The challenge,therefore, is to manage the India-China relationship despite inherent complexities and challenges, embedding it in the matrix of dialogue and diplomacy."

(Agencies)