India emphasised on the importance of maintaining peace, security and stability, unimpeded commerce, freedom of navigation and overflight above the disputed South China Sea at the recently-concluded Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Laos.
A statement issued by Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, who chaired the 14th India-ASEAN Summit, said, “India also underscored the importance for the states concerned to resolve disputes through peaceful means in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”
In this regard, India urged all parties to show utmost respect for the 1982 UNCLOS, which establishes the international legal order of seas and oceans, added the statement. ASEAN and its member countries also encouraged greater maritime cooperation between ASEAN and India, including but not limited to, the enhancement of maritime connectivity, which would provide lower logistic costs and motivate increased trade in goods and services between the two parties.
At the Summit, the ASEAN leaders also appreciated India’s commitment to the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) and agreed to further strengthen cooperation in other areas such as food and agriculture, trade facilitation, education, clean and renewable energy, tourism, health and well-being, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) development, and poverty alleviation.
They also welcomed India’s ‘Act East Policy’ and ‘Make in India’ and appreciated its continued support for the ASEAN Community and ASEAN’s efforts in building a region that is politically cohesive, economically integrated, socially responsible and truly rules based, people oriented and people-centred.
The ASEAN and India leaders agreed to continue enhancing the partnership that would bring about tangible benefits to both sides as well as contribute to the promotion of peace, stability, and prosperity in the region.
Recognising that terrorism remains significant threat to peace and stability in our region, the leaders present at the Summit reiterated their commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and agreed to take concrete measures to step up cooperation and coordination among law enforcement and security agencies.
“We recognise the need to counter and prevent the spread of violent extremism and radicalism that leads to acts of terrorism. In addition, ASEAN and India support the early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, currently under negotiation at the United Nations,” said the statement.
The countries agreed to cooperate towards addressing traditional and non-traditional security challenges, including in areas of de-radicalisation, prevention of violent extremism and cybercrime.
ASEAN leaders also welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to establishing an ASEAN-India Innovation Platform and to build digital connectivity through the use of Gigabit-capable Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology.