The maiden India-ASEAN defence ministers’ meeting was held on Tuesday at Siem Reap, Cambodia to commemorate the 30th anniversary of India-ASEAN relations. The year 2022 has also been designated as the ‘ASEAN-India Friendship Year’.
The meeting was co-chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence of Cambodia General Tea Banh. It preceded the ninth ASEAN-Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Plus scheduled to take place tomorrow.
Rajnath, in his address, highlighted the historic and robust ties that India shares with ASEAN countries. The India-ASEAN relationship was elevated recently to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during the ASEAN-India Summit held in Cambodia on 12 November.
Rajnath emphasised that the centrality of ASEAN in the Indo- Pacific region is the cornerstone of India’s ”Act East Policy”.
During this maiden India-ASEAN defence ministers meeting, the Indian minister proposed two major initiatives for further expanding the scope and depth of the India-ASEAN defence relations.
One of the initiatives proposed by him was the ‘India-ASEAN Initiative for Women in UN Peacekeeping Operations’ which includes the conduct of tailor-made courses for women peacekeepers of ASEAN member states at the Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping in India and the conduct of a ‘Table Top Exercise’ in India for women officers from ASEAN, incorporating facets of UN peacekeeping challenges.
Rajnath also underlined the importance of women officers in peacekeeping missions for ensuring lasting peace.
On the margins of the meeting, Rajnath held bilateral meetings with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin and his counterparts from some other nations.