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Statement by Secretary (West) Shri Dinkar Khullar at 4th Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Shanghai

May 21, 2014

Your Excellency President Xi, Distinguished Heads of State and Government of CICA member states, distinguished representatives of the observer countries and organisations, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to congratulate the People’s Republic of China for assuming the Chairmanship of CICA and thank our Chinese hosts for the excellent arrangement made for this Summit. I would also like to thank our previous hosts, Turkey, for leading the CICA process so ably these past 4 years. In particular we would like to acknowledge Turkey’s innovation of holding informal meetings of CICA Ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Let me also welcome Bangladesh and Qatar to CICA as its newest members.

My country has just concluded a watershed election. The largest electorate in the history of democratic elections voted in record numbers to elect a new government. Since we are in the midst of a political transition, I have been entrusted with representing India at this Summit. Allow me to convey the greetings of India’s new political leadership to this distinguished gathering.

India has supported this farsighted initiative of President Nazarbayevto strengthen security and cooperation in Asia since its inception 22 years ago.CICA has grown steadily in membership and importance. It has joined the ranks of leading forums in Asia for dialogue on security issues and confidence building. CICA should continue to develop in a step-by-step manner, rooted in Asian realities and Asian requirements. It should continue to respect the varied political and development choices of countries in Asia.

The Asian security landscape is diverse and unique. We face complex transnational challenges such as terrorism, insecurity in the maritime domain, WMD proliferation, drug-trafficking and other transnational organized crimes. Maritime territorial disputes have the potential for undermining comprehensive security and mutual confidence. Ironically, they can also be turned into opportunities for forging cooperative approaches to enhance development and prosperity in Asia. India supports a stable maritime environment in Asia, including the right of maritime passage, and unimpeded commerce in accordance with international law. We recognize the priority need to consider new approaches within the overall framework of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to promote international cooperation for the sustainable use of living resources of the high seas as well as mutually beneficial sharing of seabed resources located in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Terrorism poses a serious threat to the security and well-being of our peoples. Almost each and every country in CICA has suffered from terrorist atrocities. Our commitment to CICA principles should be manifested in our actions and our positions on combating terrorism and its links with organized crime, narcotics and arms smuggling. There is scope for more concrete cooperation in combating terrorism, cyber-crime and piracy within CICA while respecting national competences.

In recent years, CICA has worked to implement agreed CBMs in the economic, social, environmental and human dimensions on the basis of the Almaty Act of 2002 and the Catalogue of CBMs of 2004. There has also been progress in developing cooperative activity in the areas of energy security, transportation corridors, e-commerce, desertification and inter-ethnic dialogue. India believes that CICA’s priority should continue to be placed on practical, voluntary and achievable confidence building measures and on initiatives that build habits of functional cooperation in areas of relevance to the daily lives of our peoples. We do not have to do everything; we could pick on a few projects such as in the areas of tourism and transportation that can catch the imagination of our peoples and reinforce their sense of Asian identity. By working for concrete outcomes in select areas we would also strengthen faith in the ability of Asian countries to work together to resolve Asia’s problems.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, we are at a crucial juncture on Asian security just when Asia is rediscovering its central role in global economic activity.CICA has its role to play in the development of a cooperative framework in Asia based on mutual trust, mutual benefit and sovereign equality. It is interesting that CICA’s sister forums such as the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum are currently exploring various approaches to the security architecture in the Asia-Pacific. CICA can also contribute to this debate. The Principles enshrined in the Almaty Act, notably sovereign equality, refraining from the threat or use of force, territorial integrity and peaceful settlement of disputes, have to be at the heart of Asian security, now linked inextricably to global security and prosperity. India looks forward to working with all member states of CICA to advance this Summit’s vision for a New Asia of Peace, Stability and Cooperation.

I thank you.

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