Voicing concern over a spate of recent terror attacks in several countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said terrorism is no longer a “peripheral problem” for the region as its long shadow stretches across the world and called for new strategies to combat the menace.
“We often thought of terrorism as a peripheral problem for this region. The barbaric terrorist strikes in Paris, Ankara, Beirut, Mali and on the Russian aircraft is a stark reminder that its shadow stretches across our societies and our world, both in recruitment and choice of targets,” Modi said in his remarks at the East Asia Summit in Malaysia.
He called for a new global resolve and new strategies to combat terrorism, without balancing it against political considerations and said no country should use or support terrorism.
“There is no distinction between groups. There are no sanctuaries. There are no funds. There is no access to arms. But, we also have to work within our societies and with our youth,” he added.
The Prime Minister welcomed the commitment to delink religion from terrorism and the efforts to promote human values that define every faith.
Noting that the East Asia Summit is the key forum to shape the region’s collective future, Modi told the leaders of the 18-member grouping that the world still looks to the region to address global challenges and uncertainties.
He said that since his government assumed office 18 months ago, no region has seen greater engagement from India than the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region.
“This reflects a long standing national consensus in India on the importance of this region for India and the world,” Modi said.
On upcoming Paris climate talks, the Prime Minister said, “There, we must not only come together to craft a balanced and concrete outcome on climate change. But we must also stand together to send a clear message that we will not retreat in the face of terror.”
Modi reaffirmed India’s active participation in the ASEAN led security dialogue and cooperation forums and said the East Asia Summit must continue to support the evolution of an inclusive, balanced, transparent and open regional architecture for security and cooperation.
“We must deepen our collective commitment to strengthen and abide by international rules and norms,” he said.
Noting that oceans remained the pathway to prosperity and security, Modi said India shared with ASEAN a commitment to freedom of navigation, over flight and unimpeded commerce, in accordance with accepted principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Noting that India and Bangladesh had recently settled their maritime boundary using the mechanism of UNCLOS, he said territorial disputes must be settled through peaceful means.
“India hopes that all parties to the disputes in the South China Sea will abide by the Declaration on the Conduct on South China Sea and the guidelines on the implementation. Parties must also redouble efforts for early adoption of a Code of Conduct on the basis of consensus,” Modi said, without naming any country.
China claims sovereignty on almost all of the South China Sea which is firmly opposed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
The Prime Minister also called for stronger commitment and closer cooperation on cyber security. He listed out outer space as emerging a major area of security concern.
“We must also continue to strengthen cooperation on non-proliferation,” he said.
India, which shares both land and maritime boundaries with ASEAN, said it will continue to deepen bilateral security partnerships in ASEAN and with other EAS partners.
“We will remain active participants in the ASEAN-led security dialogue and cooperation forums,” he added.
Modi also spoke about early conclusion of a balanced and broad-based Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
“Trans Pacific Partnership is also a major development. These, I hope, will eventually not become competing regimes, but the foundations of an integrated economic community in the region,” he said.
Modi said development cooperation was at the heart of the East Asia Summit. “India will continue to support the efforts of our partner countries”.
He said India was taking the lead in establishing EAS Virtual Knowledge Portals on Disaster Management and Trauma Care & Nursing.
The Nalanda University is shaping up as a world class centre of knowledge and learning, he added.