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India to help craft economic, security architecture in Asia: PM

By Saroj Mohanty, Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei), Oct 10 : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday reaffirmed India's commitment to building regional architectures of economic and security cooperation in Asia, saying the need for such collective action and collaboration is more acute now because of the global economic uncertainty and political turmoil in some parts of the world.


He also said India was keen to enter into a dialogue and cooperation with like-minded countries on innovative means of financing infrastructure and stressed that building of physical infrastructure needs to go hand-in-hand with creation of soft infrastructure.

India welcomed Brunei's initiative to hold a meeting of the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) Connectivity Coordinating Committee and the East Asia Summit later this year, he added.

"Asia has been a late starter in terms of building regional architectures of cooperation. We have embarked on this collective journey in large part because of the outstanding vision and leadership of ASEAN, first in pursuing ASEAN integration and then expanding it to the wider region.

"We will be successful if we adhere to the principles of unity, cooperation and integration that have guided ASEAN and if ASEAN centrality continues to shape the East Asia Summit processes. I reaffirm India's commitment to contribute to this process," the prime minister said at the 8th East Asia Summit in this Brunei capital.

The East Asia Summit (EAS) comprises the 10 ASEAN countries and their eight dialogue partners, including India, and has emerged as a premier forum for economic and security dialogue in the Asia-Pacific.

Manmohan Singh said the need for collective action, cooperation and collaboration in the Asia-Pacific region had never been felt more acutely as it is now.

"Global economic uncertainty and political turmoil in other parts of the world have impacted countries in our region equally. In addition, this vast region faces challenges arising not only from its diversity, but also from differences. Clearly, the potential of unprecedented prosperity for our people can be realized only by inculcating a cooperative temper," the prime minister said.

"The East Asia Summit is a forum that is, in my view, ideally placed to help us realise our common goals for advancing security and prosperity in a cooperative framework," he added.

This effort must be supplemented with cooperation on the challenges of energy, food, health and human resource development, Manmohan Singh said.

India, therefore, welcomed the adoption of the Declaration of the 8th East Asia Summit on Food Security, he added.

The prime minister also proposed a new Indian initiative for cooperation among East Asian Summit members in trauma care and nursing, and conveyed India's support to Australia and Vietnam as co-Chairs of the launch of the Asia-Pacific Leaders' Malaria Alliance.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), launched in Phnom Penh last year, has laid out a roadmap for regional economic integration that can reinforce growth and accelerate development across the region, besides enhancing mutual stakes in regional stability and security. India remains fully engaged in and committed to the RCEP process.

A stable maritime environment is essential to realize collective regional aspirations.

"We should reaffirm the principles of maritime security, including the right of passage and unimpeded commerce, in accordance with international law, and peaceful settlement of maritime disputes. We welcome the collective commitment by the concerned countries to abide by and implement the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and to work towards the adoption of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea on the basis of consensus.

"We also welcome the establishment of the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum for developing maritime norms that would reinforce existing international law relating to maritime security. We should also strengthen efforts to counter threats of piracy, international terrorism, transnational crimes and drug trafficking. India has initiated the process of establishing a Virtual Knowledge Centre as well as a network of round-the-clock Points of Contact among EAS countries. We hope to strengthen these initiatives further with your support," the prime minister said.

India participated in the second Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum meet in Kuala Lumpur Oct 3 to discuss ways to strengthen regional maritime cooperation.

(Saroj Mohanty can be contacted at saroj.m@ians.in)

--IANS (Posted on 10-10-2013)

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