East Asia Summit: Modi calls for culture of dialogue, cooperation

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13 November 2014

Prime Minister Narendra ModiPrime Minister Narendra Modi has called for establishing a culture and habit of dialogue and cooperation as countries in the region embark on some major initiatives on regional cooperation.

He said his government, since assuming office six months ago, has moved with a great sense of priority and speed to turn our 'Look East Policy' into 'Act East Policy' and that the East Asia Summit has been an important pillar of this policy.

''No other forum brings together such a large collective weight of global population, youth, economy and military strength. Nor is any other forum is so critical for peace, stability and prosperity in Asia-Pacific and the world,'' he said.

''Over the last eight summits, we have made progress in a number of areas. We worked on important issues.''

He said the initiatives taken by the East Asia Summit in disaster preparedness and response were truly commendable.

Modi cited the Ebola fight that has once again highlighted the importance of international cooperation in combating pandemics. ''India has made a contribution of $12 million in the efforts against Ebola. We also have 251 police personnel, including 104 women personnel, as part of the UN Mission in Liberia. They have all remained on duty in Liberia.''

''Our region has a number of complex and unresolved questions in the area of security. There is a need for a serious and sustained dialogue to strengthen the climate of understanding and confidence among all stakeholders in the region.

''In a world of inter-dependence and globalisation, there is no option but to follow international laws and norms. This also applies to maritime security,'' he said.

Following international law and norms is important for peace and stability in South China Sea as well, Modi said, referring to China's dispute with neighbours. He said the 1982 UN Convention on Law of the Sea should be the basis for resolving disputes peacefully.

''We also hope that the efforts to conclude a code of conduct on South China Sea by a process of consensus would be successful soon.

Modi called for ensuring that cyber and space remain out of bounds for new theatres for conflict and be a source of connectivity and prosperity.

Challenges of terrorism and extremism have increased. There is close link with drug trafficking, arms smuggling and money laundering.

In his intervention at the East Asia Summit, the prime minister rejected the idea of any linkage between religion and terrorism while calling for formulating a ''genuinely international'' partnership in the fight against all forms of terror acts.

''We support the East Asia Summit Declaration on the Islamic State. At the same time, comprehensive response against terrorism requires a genuinely international partnership against all terrorism. Those who believe in humanity must come together. We should also reject any linkage between religion and terrorism.''

He said a balanced Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which gives equal emphasis to goods and services, could become a springboard for regional integration and prosperity.

India-Asean trade currently stands at around $76 billion, catering to a combined market of 1.8 billion people. However, India's trade with Asean is just 3 per cent of total Asean trade with officials saying there is immense untapped potential. India and the Asean plan to increase their bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2015.





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