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External Affairs Minister’s Intervention on "Exchange of views on Regional and International Issues" at the 19th ARF Ministerial Meeting

July 12, 2012

Mr. Chairman,
Dear Colleagues,

I would like to convey my gratitude to the Chairman for the excellent arrangements and kind hospitality extended to us. We are pleased that Cambodia, a country with which India enjoys very warm and friendly ties, is hosting the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting.

We meet at a time when the Asia-Pacific region continues to witness growing economic interdependence, cooperation and increased linkages which contribute towards our shared goals of peace, security and prosperity. However, we must work together to address various challenges that cause instability and insecurity.

The ARF provides a venue for constructive dialogue on political and security cooperation in the region with the ASEAN continuing to play a central role in the process.

Terrorism remains a grave threat that must be addressed by all States through a comprehensive global approach and strengthened commitment to combat it in all its forms anywhere. The global regime against terrorism needs to be hinged on a holistic framework for which the Comprehensive Conventional on International Terrorism at the United Nations requires early conclusion. We welcome the Statement that will be issued on Cooperation in Ensuring Cyber Security.

The international community should remain engaged in Afghanistan and extend support for a successful transition process. India is committed to assisting the people and Government of Afghanistan as they build a peaceful, pluralistic, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan.

We have committed assistance amounting to about 2 billion US Dollars to Afghanistan for projects identified in partnership with the Afghan government. We hosted a Delhi Investment Summit on Afghanistan on 28 June 2012 to attract foreign investment in the light of new opportunities opening up in various sectors in that country. Last week at the Tokyo Conference I reiterated once again India’s commitment to building a secure and prosperous Afghanistan.

The situation in the Korean peninsula has been a matter of concern in the region and beyond. India voiced serious concern at the attempted launch of 13 April 2012, which violated UN Security Council Resolution 1874 as well as adversely impacting on peace and stability in the Korean peninsula.

We support efforts to bring about peace, stability, reconciliation and reunification on the Korean Peninsula. We also support the goal of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula that has been endorsed by DPRK. We believe that the DPRK nuclear issue and establishing peace in the Korean Peninsula should be addressed through dialogue between the parties concerned.

Myanmar provides a land bridge for India to ASEAN and is a friendly neighbour. India has consistently emphasized the path of engagement with Myanmar to encourage the advancement of national reconciliation as well as socio-economic development. The successful conduct of bye-elections in April 2012 represented a major milestone in the transition towards multi-party democracy.

Our Prime Minister visited Myanmar in May and we are committed to enhancing economic engagement and extending all possible assistance and support to the process of national reconciliation and further strengthening of democracy in Myanmar. We also look forward to Myanmar’s planned Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014.

In the present era of interdependence, the security and economic prosperity of nations is vitally linked to safety and security of sea lanes of communication. States should work together to address common threats to maritime security. The menace of piracy has been expanding its reach and it should be addressed firmly through cooperative action.

We have been following developments in respect to the South China Sea. As we had stated earlier, India supports freedom of navigation and access to resources in accordance with principles of international law. These principles should be respected by all. We have noted that the parties concerned are engaged in discussions to address the issue, and we hope that progress will be made with respect to implementation of Guidelines to the 2002 Declaration of Conduct on the South China Sea.

There has been a steady evolution of the regional security architecture centred on the ASEAN in terms of the East Asia Summit, ARF and ADMM Plus. We fully subscribe to the view that ASEAN should continue to be the driving force for these forums. There is scope for greater synergy and complementarity between different forums.

Last November, our Prime Minister stated at the East Asia Summit "The resurgence of Asia is dependent on the evolution of a cooperative architecture in which all countries are equal participants. We will work with all other countries towards this end." I would like to reassure that India would continue to participate in and contribute to the success of ARF activities.

Thank you.

Phnom Penh
July 12, 2012


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