In a veiled reference to China’s aggressive behaviour against its neighbours, defence minister Rajnath Singh today underlined the importance of mutual trust and confidence based on restraint in activities and actions that might further complicate the situation in the region. He also hit out at Pakistan for its continued support to terrorism.
He was addressing the 14th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting organised online by Vietnam. Apart from Singh and his Chinese counterpar t , Wei Fenghe, the meeting was attended by the defence ministers of ASEAN membercountries, United States, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Singh emphasised India’s call for an open and inclusive order in the Indo-Pacific region based upon respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, peaceful resolutions of disputes through dialogue and adherence to international rules and laws.
He also reiterated India’s suppor t to f reedom of navigation and overflight for all in international waters in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in the backdrop of China’s continued attempts to browbeat its neighbours on maritime issues.
Singh pointed out that the Indo-Pacific region confronted numerous traditional and non-traditional security threats and recalled the launch of the IndoPacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at last year’s East Asia Summit. The IPOI was an open global initiative which drew on existing regional cooperation architecture and mechanism. He noted the commonality between India’s IPOI and ASEAN Outlook on IndoPacific, both being opportunities for cooperation.
Terrorism, he said, remained a major scourge for the region and world. The structures that support and sustain terrorism continue to exist, including in India’s neighbourhood, he said in a veiled reference to Pakistan. He called for stronger commitment and need to strengthen international mechanism to fight terrorism, jointly and vigorously.
Singh underlined the key role of ASEAN-centric forum in promoting dialogue and engagement towards a pluralistic, cooperative security order in Asia.