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Opening Remarks by Secretary (East) at ASEAN Regional Forum Inter-Sessional Group Meeting on Confidence Building Measures and Preventive Diplomacy (April 11, 2016)

April 11, 2016

  • A very warm welcome to you all for the ASEAN Regional Forum Inter-Sessional Support Group Meeting on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) and Preventive Diplomacy (PD). We are delighted to co-Chair this meeting with Laos and look forward to very fruitful discussions today.
  • Dear Colleagues, the Asia-Pacific is the most dynamic region in the world and nurturing a climate of peace and stability in this region is a global priority. This places a responsibility on all of us and on the ARF as a critical platform for security dialogue and cooperation in the region. ARF is the oldest of the ASEAN centred forums. It has come to occupy a unique position as a forum which brings together partners in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond for a broad-based and useful dialogue on political and security issues. The ARF approach in this regard is of gradual but steady evolution through three broad stages, which are (a) promotion of confidence building measures (b) development of preventive diplomacy mechanisms and (c) development of conflict resolution.
  • The dialogue and cooperation among Asia-Pacific states, both bilaterally and in multilateral forums has intensified. At the same time, global security faces several challenges – terrorism and proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), territorial and maritime disputes, cyber crimes and piracy, food and energy insecurity, environmental degradation and humanitarian disasters.
  • Of all these challenges, terrorism is of foremost public concern. I would like to offer India’s condolences to the victims of recent terrorist attacks in Belgium, Turkey, Pakistan and Iraq. We are also witness to changing the character of terrorism: global links, franchise relations, use of cyber space for recruitment and propaganda etc. As our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said recently, while the reach and supply chains of terrorism are global, genuine cooperation among nation states is not. ARF was one of the earliest forums to focus on Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime. At the Inter-Sessional Support Group (ISG), we will review the ARF ISM on Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) and also the ARF workshop to preventing violent Extremism.
  • We also see a mixed picture on disarmament and non-proliferation. The Iranian nuclear issue has been resolved peacefully. The global, verifiable and non-discriminatory regime embodied in the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) has risen to the challenge of CW use in Syria. Myanmar’s ratification of the CWC has brought us closer to universality. The 8th Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) is an opportunity to strengthen further the norm against biological weapons. The prognosis for nuclear disarmament, however, is challenging and recent nuclear and missile tests in violation of UNSC resolutions have complicated non-proliferation efforts.
  • Another contemporary challenge is maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight and fostering full respect for international law on the maritime commons, which are vital to the region’s continued prosperity and stability. We call on all parties to avoid threat or use of force and pursue resolution of territorial and maritime disputes through all peaceful means, in keeping with international laws.
  • Dear Colleagues, a glance at the Agenda would show us the range of work being conducted by ARF. The cooperative activities conducted under the ARF framework have contributed to confidence building and regional peace and stability over the years. The candid discussions on regional and international security issues as part of the ARF ISG have contributed to a greater understanding of the complex issues involved. ARF ISG on CBMs and PD is an avenue to discuss future directions of this important forum. We look forward to today’s discussion on the various Confidence Building and Preventive Diplomacy initiatives, on the development of the several ARF work plans of the various ARF Inter‐Sessional Meetings and on the future direction of ARF itself. As always, we will also have an exchange of views on regional and international issues.
  • I hope that today’s Meeting will be a cornerstone for stronger mutual confidence and lead to even more robust cooperation between ARF participants.
  • I wish you all the best for a very successful meeting. Thank you.
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