Joint fight against terror and the early need for settling territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea figured prominently in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s discussions with ASEAN leaders and his counterparts from China and Japan.
The Prime Minister’s emphasis on tackling the scourge of terrorism came even as US President Barack Obama and his Malaysian host Najib Razak vowed today to fight the “evil” and “hateful” ideology unleashed by the Islamic State group, especially in the backdrop of last week’s terror attack in Paris.
Addressing the ASEAN-India Summit here, Modi called for enhancing cooperation with ASEAN to tackle the major global challenge of terrorism.
“Terrorism has emerged as a major global challenge that affects us all here. We have excellent bilateral cooperation with ASEAN members. And, we should see how we can enhance our cooperation at the regional and international level, including through support for adoption of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism,” he said.
Meeting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on the sidelines of the Summit, Modi said the two countries should raise their strategic coordination to tackle the threat of terror.
Condemning the recent spurt of terror attacks in Paris and Mali, Modi said the menace of terrorism was the biggest challenge facing humanity.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister said that there was a need for the international community to eschew their political differences and unite to face this menace, External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Vikas Swarup told reporters.
Modi said that countries should put aside their political differences and came together to help the affected. He said that both India and China faced the threat of terrorism and there was a need to increase strategic coordination.
On his part, Li said China was against terrorism and cooperation between the two countries on terrorism would help Asia become more safe.
In his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Modi discussed key issues like regional connectivity, maritime security and South China Sea disputes.
Modi underlined the need for settling territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea through peaceful means.
He suggested evolving specific plans for cooperation with the 10-member grouping in key areas of maritime security, counter-piracy and humanitarian and disaster relief.
“As our rapidly transforming region navigates its way through uncertain times to a peaceful and prosperous future, we look forward to ASEAN leading the way in defining the regional architecture,” said Modi, who is here on a three-day visit to attend the ASEAN-India Summit and East Asia Summit.
Referring to the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, he said, “India shares with ASEAN a commitment to freedom of navigation, over flight and unimpeded commerce, in accordance with accepted principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Territorial disputes must be settled through peaceful means.”
Modi said India hopes that all parties to the disputes in the South China Sea will abide by the guidelines on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and redouble efforts for early adoption of a Code of Conduct on the basis of consensus.
Terming connectivity as the pathway to shared prosperity, he said the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway project is making good progress and should be completed by 2018.
India will soon extend electronic-visa facility to all ASEAN countries, Modi said.
Terming science, technology and innovation as a vital pillar of India-ASEAN cooperation and economic partnership, he said, “We will enlarge the ASEAN-India Science and Technology Development Fund from the current USD one million to USD 5 million.”
India intends to set up an ASEAN-India Innovation Platform to facilitate commercialisation of low cost technologies, technology transfer and collaborative Research and Development projects, he said.
ASEAN grouping includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Earlier, wooing foreign investors, Prime Minister Modi today promised reforms “with speed and boldness” along with a transparent and predictable tax regime and protection of intellectual property rights.
Addressing the Summit, he announced a USD one billion line of credit to promote projects that support physical and digital connectivity between India and ASEAN.
With a growth rate of 7.5 per cent, India, he said, is the fastest growing major economy in the world adding it is likely to go higher in the near future.