India committed to unimpeded lawful commerce in international waters: Rajnath

India committed to unimpeded lawful commerce in international waters: Rajnath

New Delhi, Nov 16 (PTI) India is committed to freedom of navigation, overflight and unimpeded lawful commerce in international waters in accordance with global norms, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday against the backdrop of China's increasing military muscle flexing in South China Sea.

In an address at a meeting of 10-nation ASEAN and some of its dialogue partners in Jakarta, Singh also underlined the importance of dialogue and diplomacy to ensure enduring peace and stability in the world.

The defence minister reaffirmed India's message to the world at large, that 'this is not an era of war', and spoke about the imperative to give up the 'us versus them' mindset.

Singh said India is commitment to freedom of navigation, overflight and unimpeded lawful commerce in the international waters in accordance with international laws, including United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982.

There have been growing global concerns over China's sweeping claims of sovereignty over all of the South China Sea, a huge source of hydrocarbons.

Several countries in the region including Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei, have counterclaims.

In his remarks at the meeting of ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus), the defence minister described terrorism as a serious threat to international peace and security and called for concerted efforts to deal with it.

The ADMM-Plus is a platform comprising 10-nation ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and its eight dialogue partners -- India, China, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States.

Indonesia is hosting the meeting as the current chair of ADMM-Plus.

The defence minister called for regional security initiatives that are consultative and development-oriented to reflect the larger consensus among various stakeholders.

He committed towards nurturing practical, forward-looking and result-oriented cooperation with ADMM-Plus for enhancing maritime security in the region, the defence ministry said here.

India became the dialogue partner of the ASEAN in 1992 and the inaugural ADMM-Plus was convened in Hanoi in October 2010. Since 2017, the ADMM-Plus ministers have been meeting annually to bolster regional security cooperation. PTI MPB DV DV

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