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Remarks by Gen (Dr.) VK Singh (Retd.), Minister of State at the 8th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Singapore

August 04, 2018

Your Excellency, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Singapore;

Excellencies,


  • I would like to convey my sincere thanks to the Government of Singapore for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to us and the excellent arrangements made for our meeting today.
  • The EAS is an important Leaders-led forum for dialogue on broad strategic and political issues of common interest and concern. Recent steps such as the operationalization of the EAS unit within ASEAN Secretariat, strengthening of the EAMJ mechanism and launch of the EAS website have contributed to making the EAS process both robust and relevant.
  • The inclusion of Maritime Cooperation under the Manila Plan of Action is an important step forward. Issues of interest and concern in the maritime domain can be discussed in this forum.
  • The global international order continues to witness increasing uncertainties. Disregard for international norms, rising protectionism, competition in the global commons, and significantly, the unabated threat from terrorism and violent extremism are of concern. India continues to encourage countries to adopt the path of dialogue and cooperation, to uphold and adhere to international laws, that govern inter-state relations.
  • Our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore on 1st June, elaborated on principles of India’s Indo-Pacific policy. He outlined India’s vision of "Security and Growth for All the Region”, in short SAGAR, that is essentially based on six principles namely:
    • open and inclusive region for mutual peace and prosperity,
    • maintenance of a common rules-based order,
    • freedom of navigation, overflight and unimpeded commerce, a level playing field for free trade to all countries big and small, and a peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international laws, notably UNCLOS,
    • focus on maritime connectivity and, above all,
    • support for ASEAN centrality and unity.
  • ASEAN occupies a central place in the regional architecture of the Indo-Pacific. It is our consistent view that ASEAN, placed at the cultural, commercial and physical cross-roads of the region, has a unique ability to reflect and harmonize larger interests of the world beyond it.
  • Recently, India and ASEAN held extensive discussions on this concept, at the 2nd ASEAN-India Workshop on Blue Economy and at the 10th edition of the Delhi Dialogue with the theme "Strengthening India-ASEAN Maritime Advantage”. Earlier, we hosted the EAS Participating Countries to the 3rd East Asia Summit Conference on Maritime Security and Cooperation, held on the coastal city of Bhubaneshwar in June 2018. The principles which should govern our Blue Economy in the region were extensively discussed. We look forward to continuing those discussions at the EAS for development and prosperity of our region.
  • Excellencies, there can be no prosperity, however, without peace and security. Terrorism remains the single biggest threat to peace and stability in our region. We must combat this scourge of terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations. There can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever. We believe that our fight against terrorism should not only seek to disrupt and eliminate terrorists, terror organisations and networks, but should also identify, hold accountable and take strong measures against States who encourage, support and finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups, and falsely extol their virtues. There should be no glorification of terrorists. I urge that collectively we take measures to counter and prevent the spread of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization.
  • Excellencies, India welcomes the historic US-DPRK Summit and Inter-Korean Summits held earlier this year. We also welcome the Joint Statement and the Panmunjom Declaration issued on these occasions which we hope will pave the way for lasting peace in the Korean Peninsula. I visited Pyongyang on 17th May and conveyed our firm belief that a step-by-step process and responsible state behavior can lead to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and lasting peace between the two Koreas. We hope that resolution of this issue will take into account and address our concerns about proliferation linkages that extend to India’s immediate neighbourhood.
  • We have all benefitted from globalization. We seek a level playing field and an open, stable international trade regime. India also remains committed to the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Partnership Agreement (RCEP) in 2018. A balanced and equitable outcome of the RCEP negotiations is possible, recognizing and accommodating differing sensitivities, ambitions and comparative advantages of all.
  • As I mentioned before, connectivity is vital to enhance trade and prosperity. We fully understand the benefits for our region. These initiatives must, however, be based in respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, consultations, good governance, transparency, viability and sustainability.
  • India has taken note of the Concept Notes for the five Statements proposed to be adopted by our Leaders. We look forward to contributing positively to the final text.
Thank you.

Singapore
August 04, 2018
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