Written byRamya Patelkhana ·
Describing the Indo-Pacific as a "natural region", PM Narendra Modi said India's armed forces, especially the Navy, are building and expanding partnerships in the strategically vital region for peace, security, and humanitarian assistance.
Ten South East Asian countries connect the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean in both geographical and civilization sense, Modi said in a keynote-address at Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Friday.
Inclusiveness, openness, and ASEAN centrality and unity lie at the heart of the new Indo-Pacific, PM Narendra Modi stated at the prestigious Shangri-La Dialogue.
Expounding his vision of the Indo-Pacific region, the Prime Minister said, "India does not see the Indo-Pacific Region as a strategy or as a club of limited members, nor as a grouping that seeks to dominate."
The Indian armed forces are building partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region; they train, exercise and conduct goodwill missions across the region, PM Modi said.
He noted India is also an active member in the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia.
He said Indo-Pacific region is also home to a vast array of global opportunities and challenges.
PM Modi said his government's principal mission is to transform India to a "New India" by 2022, when Independent India will be 75 years young.
He said it was possible for the world to rise above divisions and competition to work together and cited the example of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) as an example and inspiration.
Explaining India's stand, Modi said, New Delhi stood for a free, open, inclusive region, which embraces us all in a common pursuit of progress and prosperity. It includes all nations in this geography as also others beyond who have a stake in it.
India places Southeast Asia is at its center and, the ASEAN grouping has been and will be central to its future.
Modi also underlined the need to have equal access as a right under international law to the use of common spaces on seas and in the air that would require freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law.
His statement comes amidst China flexing its military muscles in the South and East China seas.
China claims almost all of South China Sea. It laid claims on the Senkaku islands under Japan's in the East China Sea and resorted to aggressive patrols in the few years. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan have counterclaims over the South China Sea.
The US recently renamed its Pacific Command to Indo-Pacific Command, in a largely symbolic move to signal India's importance.
Modi also underlined the need for good connectivity to enhance trade and prosperity. He noted that there are many connectivity initiatives in the region.
He assured India's engagement in the Indo-Pacific Region, from the shores of Africa to that of the Americas, will be inclusive.
In conclusion, Prime Minister Modi said, India will engage with the world in peace, with respect, through dialogue and absolute commitment to international law. India will promote a democratic and rules-based international order, in which all nations, small and large, thrive as equal and sovereign.
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