New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today called upon the international community to eliminate terrorist safe havens, disrupt their networks & financing and thwart their cross-border movement to ensure sustainable regional security. Addressing the 6th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus) in Bangkok, Thailand, the Minister described terrorism as the most obvious and heinous of cross-border crimes, adding that some States use terror to pursue political goals making regional security vulnerable.
“It is so much worse when terrorists are aided, abetted, armed, financed and sheltered by States. The interplay between states and non-state actors, used as proxies to foment violence, has worsened this menace. The persistence of State-sponsored terrorism is not just a painful cancer, it is also the leading reason for unsustainable security,” said Singh.
Impressing upon ‘Sustainable Security’, the theme of ADMM-Plus, Singh said security is only effective when it is sustainable and it is sustainable only when the interests of all in the region are taken on board. He stressed upon the need for a more cooperative, equitable and consultative paradigm to deal with broad and complex security challenges to find sustainable solutions.
Singh said India’s Indo-Pacific vision is based on the idea of sustainable security as it focuses on a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific; one in which there is respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of everyone involved. He added that sustainability implies prioritisation of peaceful resolution of disputes, avoidance of use or threat of use of force, and adherence to international laws.
“Our region must remain open and welcoming to the interests of all, those who live in it and others whose interests are in it. In short, our approach to security in the Indo-Pacific is sustainable by definition because it emphasises Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR),” Singh said.
On the negotiations for a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, Singh hoped that the outcome of these talks will keep with all relevant international laws, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and promotes freedom of navigation, overflight and lawful commerce. Emphasising the need to protect the rights of States that are not party to these negotiations, Singh expressed hope that the situation will remain stable, without the use or threat of use of force or militarisation of the region.
On the issue of denuclearisation of Korean peninsula, the Defence Minister said India looks forward to the progress made through dialogue in addressing all related issues, including the proliferation trail that links South and East Asia. “As dialogue remains on the table, we hope missile launches and such destabilising activities will cease,” he said.
Singh highlighted that India has taken active part in all ADMM-Plus mechanisms and contributed to their success. He said, India and Myanmar have co-chaired the 3rd cycle of Experts’ Working Group on Military Medicine (EWG-MM), adding that India hosted a standalone Field Exercise on Military Medicine in India in March this year.
The Defence Minister also expressed India’s eagerness to co-chair the India-Indonesia Expert Working Group on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) in the next cycle.
Singh also held bilateral meets with Defence Officials of Japan, Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand at ADMM-Plus. He affirmed India’s committment to achieving a $26bn Defence industry by 2025 with the ‘Make in India’ program.
On the sidelines of the summit, Singh met with the US Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper. Both leaders expressed satisfaction over increasing engagements between the two countries and looked forward to the 2+2 meeting in Washington DC next month. Rajnath also discussed the regional security situation and shared with Esper India’s vision and perspective on the Indo-Pacific.
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