‘India, Asean should battle together against terrorism’
MANILA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday made a strong pitch for a “rules-based regional security architecture” as he called for India and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to mount a joint battle against terrorism and violent extremism.
Modi also held talks on the margins of the Asean Summit with his Japanese and Australian counterparts on forging a new strategy for the Indo-Pacific region against the backdrop of the three countries working with the United States to forge a quadrilateral alliance.
Modi also had a brief interaction with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit though a few details emerged of their discussions. Modi and Li also had a brief conversation during a dinner hosted by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday.
Addressing the India-Asean Summit, Modi said India’s Act East Policy is shaped around Asean, whose “centrality in the regional security architecture of Indo-Pacific region is evident”.
“We have individually strived very hard to fight terrorism and violent extremism. It is time that we jointly address this challenge by intensifying cooperation in this crucial area,” he told the gathering that included the leaders of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and host Philippines.
“India assures the Asean of its steady support towards achieving a rules-based regional security architecture that best attests to the region’s interests and its peaceful development,” he added.
Noting that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the IndiaAsean dialogue partnership, Modi said, “Our wide-ranging agenda of cooperation under the Third Asean-India Plan of Action has progressed well covering the three crucial pillars of politico-security, economic and cultural partnership.”
Modi’s meetings with Japan PM Shinzo Abe and Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull came a day after his talks with US President Donald Trump on intensifying and defence and economic cooperation, particularly in the Indo-Pacific. On Sunday, officials of India, Australia, Japan and the US held their first meeting to give shape to formalise the quadrilateral alliance to keep the Indo-Pacific “free and open”.
The issue is understood to have figured in Modi’s talks with Abe and Turnbull.
“My friend @AbeShinzo and I had an excellent meeting in Manila. We reviewed the ground covered on various aspects of India-Japan ties and discussed ways to deepen cooperation between our economies and people,” Modi tweeted.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the two leaders held a “wide ranging” discussion on intensifying the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between the two countries.
Modi also held bilateral meetings with Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei and New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern.
▪ Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, at the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Leaders’ Meeting, in Manila, Philippines on Tuesday.