ASEAN Defence Ministers Meet: India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh Wednesday called for an open and inclusive order in Indo-Pacific that is based upon the respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, saying that sea lanes of communication in the region are critical for peace and prosperity of the region. Singh told the gathering of defence ministers that the Code of Conduction negotiations, that are currently under discussion at the multi-nation forum, should not prejudice the legitimate rights of those nations that are not party to this dialogue.
The ADMM Plus is an annual meeting of Defence Ministers of 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries and eight dialogue partner countries – Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States. Brunei is the Chair of the ADMM Plus forum this year.
Rajnath Singh also stressed on peaceful resolutions of disputes through dialogue and adherence to international rules and laws.
“India has strengthened its cooperative engagements in the Indo-Pacific based on converging visions and values for promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in the region,” Singh told the meeting of defence ministers.
He said India supports utilisation of ASEAN-led mechanisms as important platforms for implementation of our shared vision for the Indo-Pacific with a central place of ASEAN.
During a thematic discussion on regional and international security environment, Rajnath Singh put forth India’s views before the Defence Ministers of ASEAN countries and eight dialogue partners.
Indian leader stressed that the emerging challenges to international peace and security cannot be addressed with outdated systems designed to deal with trials of the past.
Singh reiterated India’s support to freedom of navigation, over-flight and unimpeded commerce for all in international waters in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
“Maritime security challenges are a concern to India. The Sea lanes of Communication are critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development of the Indo-Pacific region,” Singh said.
Singh hoped that the Code of Conduct negotiations would lead to outcomes keeping with international law and do not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of nations that are not party to these discussions.
India’s Act East Policy
On the ‘Act East Policy’, announced by Prime Minister Narender Modi in November 2014, Rajnath Singh stated that the key elements of the policy aim to promote economic cooperation, cultural ties and develop strategic relationships with countries in the Indo-Pacific region.
He emphasised that India aims to achieve the goal through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.
Radicalisation greatest threat
Terming terrorism and radicalisation as gravest threats to world peace and security, India called for collective cooperation to fully disrupt terror organisations and their networks, identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable.
Defence minister Singh called on ASEAN leaders to ensure that strong measures are taken against those who support and finance terrorism and provide sanctuary to terrorists.
He said India remains committed to combat financing of terrorism as a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
To deal with cyber threats, India called for a multi-stakeholder approach, guided by democratic values, with a governance structure that is open and inclusive and a secure, open and stable internet with due respect to sovereignty of countries, that would drive the future of cyberspace.
Referring to the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations, Singh stressed that India remains one of the first to respond in times of distress in the immediate as well as extended neighbourhood.
“As a founding member of the Heads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meeting (HACGAM), India seeks to enhance capacity building through collaboration in the areas of Maritime Search and Rescue,” he added.
Singh said India shares a deep connect with ASEAN and has continued its active engagement in many areas contributing to regional peace and stability, particularly through ASEAN led mechanisms, such as East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum and ADMM-Plus.
The India-ASEAN strategic partnership has been strengthened by virtue of flourishing cultural and civilisational links and enhanced people-to-people cooperation, he added.