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Statement by External Affairs Minister during the 6th Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) Foreign Ministers Meeting (October 12, 2021)

October 12, 2021

Mr. Chairman,
Dear colleagues,

It is a great pleasure to address the 6th Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the CICA. Like my colleagues, I convey my best wishes to deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi. Reflecting the vision of Kazakhstan’s First President Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev, this broad ranging forum has brought nations of our diverse continent together on the key issues of the day. As we approach its 30th year, we can take satisfaction at the CBM contribution made by this important forum. India fully supports its new initiatives proposed today for the CICA.

We have always seen the world as a family, expressed in the concept of ‘VasudhaivaKutumbakam’. Naturally, this applies in even greater measure to Asia. Our belief is expressed in a variety of ways, including in meeting challenges and finding solutions together. This was clearly in evidence during the Covid pandemic, when we provided vaccines, medicines and medical supplies, as well as expertise to more than 150 nations.

Any collective, including families are best served by participative and consultative decision-making. Eight decades ago, when the current global order was being debated, it was very different world. The members of the UN have quadrupled since then. Asia especially, but also Africa and Latin America, are inadequately represented in its decision-making. The limitations of the multilateral response to the Covid pandemic were starkly evident. This only makes a case for reformed multilateralism more urgent with each passing day.

Even as the world seeks to overcome the pandemic, there are equally pressing challenges it must address. Climate action ranks high among them. In many ways, the mind-set required is similar if we are to decisively forge ahead. Both pandemic and climate change require genuine and sincere international collaboration. They must ensure accessibility and affordability, especially to the most vulnerable. And they are a call for us all to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

If peace and development is our common goal, the biggest enemy we must overcome is terrorism. In this day and age, we cannot countenance its use by one state against another. Cross-border terrorism is not statecraft; it is simply another form of terrorism. The international community must unite against this menace, as seriously as it does on issues like climate change and pandemics. Any calculation that extremism, radicalisation, violence and bigotry can be used to advance interests is a very short-sighted one. Such forces will come back to haunt those who nurture them. Lack of stability will also undermine our collective efforts to get Covid under control. The situation in Afghanistan is, therefore, of grave concern.

Promotion of economic and social activity is intrinsic to progress and prosperity. Asia, in particular, suffers from a deficit of connectivity which is so essential for that purpose. As we build these modern arteries of commerce, it is absolutely essential that the most basic principles of international relations are observed. Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations rank foremost among them. It is also important that connectivity building is a participative and consensual exercise, based on financial viability and local ownership. They must not serve other agendas.

The post-pandemic world requires resilient and reliable supply chains. It encourages additional engines of economic growth. It also puts a premium on greater trust and transparency. CICA can make a notable contribution to all these endeavours that will enhance security and sustainable development in Asia.

New Delhi
October 12, 2021

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