New Delhi: India has called for an open and inclusive order in Indo-Pacific based upon respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations at the 8th ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Plus today.
Addressing the annual meeting of ADMM, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stressed, “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 the promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in the regions,” he said.
“Premised upon the centrality of ASEAN, India supports the utilisation of ASEAN-led mechanisms as important platforms for the implementation of our shared vision for the Indo-Pacific,” the Minister said.
Terming terrorism and radicalisation as the gravest threats to world peace and security, the Minister called for collective cooperation to fully disrupt terror organisations and their networks; identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable and ensure that strong measures are taken against those who support and finance terrorism and provide sanctuary to terrorists.
As a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), he said, “India remains committed to combat financing terrorism.”
To deal with cyber threats, he urged 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 the sovereignty of countries, that would drive the future of cyberspace.
On the most recent challenge faced by the world, COVID-19, he said the effect of the pandemic is still unfolding and the test, therefore, is to make sure that the world economy moves on the path of recovery and no one is left behind.
“This is only possible if the entire humanity is vaccinated,” he stated.
“Globally available patent-free vaccines, unhindered supply chains and greater global medical capacities are some of the lines of effort that India has suggested for a combined effort,” he highlighted.
During thematic discussions on regional and international security environment, the Minister put forth India’s views before the Defence Ministers of ASEAN countries and eight dialogue partners and stressed that the emerging challenges to international peace and security cannot be addressed with outdated systems designed to deal with trials of the past.
Reiterating 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) he said, “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,” he stressed.
He hoped that the Code of Conduct negotiations will 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.
Speaking about the ‘Act East Policy’, announced by Prime Minister Narender Modi in November 2014, he 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 through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.
Referring to the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations, the Defence Minister stated 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 & Rescue, he added.
He also underscored the importance India attaches to ASEAN centrality and unity in ensuring peace and stability in the region.
He 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.
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.