Days after the US sent its warship in the South China Sea flagging its concerns about the Chinese reclamation activities in the region, India Wednesday called for an early resolution of the problem. Batting for freedom of navigation, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar expressed hope for a “peaceful resolution of the dispute”. Addressing the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meet (ADMM) + in Malaysia, Parrikar also stressed that ASEAN is central to India’s ‘Act East Policy’.
“India hopes that all parties to the disputes in the South China Sea region will abide by the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, ensure its effective implementation, and work together to ensure a peaceful resolution of disputes. We also hope that the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea would be concluded at an early date by consensus,” Parrikar said.
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Stating that maritime security is a common challenge, he said “the situation in the South China Sea and recent developments there have attracted concern”.
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“This is natural since freedom of navigation in international waters, the right of passage and overflight, unimpeded commerce and access to resources in accordance with recognised principles of international law including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, are of concern to all of us,” he said.
Parrikar’s statement at ADMM+ — which consists of eight countries — comes after the US maneuvered its destroyer USS Lassen in SCS last week inviting a strong protest from China.