Your Excellency, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith,
I am delighted to be in Laos to attend my third East Asia Summit. Laos has our deepest appreciation on the excellent arrangements made for the Summit.
Globally, these are times of multiple transitions. The new economic opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region are a source of global attraction. At the same time, competing geo-politics, and traditional and non-traditional challenges threaten the peace, stability
and prosperity of the region. Our response needs to driven by a unity of purpose and action. The East Asia Summit is a prime forum for Leaders to discuss their concerns and priorities, and shape an agenda for regional cooperation. We expect that ASEAN will
continue to lead and remain central to efforts aimed at greater regional integration and cooperation.
Since the last EAS summit, the threat from terrorism has assumed more dangerous proportions. It has emerged as the most serious challenge to international peace and security, particularly to open and pluralistic societies. Combating it requires a strong collective
and comprehensive effort. We need to target not only the terrorists, but also their entire supporting ecosystem. And, our strongest action should be reserved for those State actors who employ terrorism as an instrument of State Policy. In South Asia, India
and most countries of the region are pursuing a peaceful path to economic prosperity. But, there is one country in India's neighbourhood whose competitive advantage rests solely in producing and exporting Terrorism. This export is reducing the space for peace
and increasing the space for violence. And, putting at risk the peace and prosperity of all of us. The time come for us to stop this Global Exporter of Terror. The time has come to Isolate and Sanction this Instigator.
Our economies cannot prosper if there is conflict at seas. The sea lanes of communication, passing through the South China Sea, are the main arteries of global merchandise trade. Their openness is essential for the larger regional and global good. India supports
freedom of navigation, over flight, and unimpeded commerce, based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. We also believe that the threat or use of force to resolve disputes
would complicate matters, affecting peace and stability. As a State Party to the UNCLOS, India urges all parties to show utmost respect for the UNCLOS.
In this regard, India's own track record in settling its maritime boundary with Bangladesh can serve as an example.
This region is India’s maritime neighbour. The economic and security needs of the region rely heavily on developments in its maritime domain. Indeed, building co-operative maritime partnerships should be a priority area for EAS engagement. We can share experiences
and build partnerships for protection of marine resources, prevent environmental degradation, and tap the potential of the blue economy. We also have to be mindful of the common security challenges at sea. Later this year, India will organize the second EAS
Conference on Maritime Security and Co-operation to look at this issue in its totality. Natural disasters are of prime concern to us. To help devise coordinated approaches and responses in this regard, India will host an EAS Conference on Disaster Management
and Emergency Response, and an Asian Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Risk Response later this year.
India has also established an EAS Virtual Knowledge Portal on Disaster Management.
To maintain peace and stability in the region, we call upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take concrete action towards denuclearization, and fully comply with its international obligations, including relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions
and the commitments it has undertaken under the 2005 Joint Statement.
India calls for effective international cooperation to crack down on human trafficking, and provide adequate protection to victims, particularly women and children. India has taken a number of new initiatives in this regard, such as developing the ‘Track Child’
national portal and ‘Operation Smile’ to rescue children.
Trade and commercial partnerships are crucial for regional economic growth. India is committed to supporting the realization of an equitable, inclusive and balanced Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in a way that does equal justice to manufacturing,
services and investment sectors. We firmly believe that India can play an important role in APEC for deepening the ongoing economic integration in the region.
I am happy to share that the archaeological site of Nalanda Mahavihara, that is, Nalanda University, was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in July 2016.
In conclusion, let me say that India will remain steadfast in our shared pursuit of regional strategic, political and economic priorities within the East Asia Summit framework.