With eye on Beijing, Sitharaman to attend SE Asian def ministers’ meet
TIMES New Delhi: Nirmala Sitharaman, in her first foreign visit after taking over as the country’s first full-time woman defence minister on September 7, will travel to the Philippines this month to participate in the Southeast Asian defence ministers’ meet (ADMM-Plus) there.
India is expected to reiterate its stand in the meeting that nations in the region must strive to resolve territorial disputes in a peaceful manner in accordance with international laws, with an eye on China’s expansionist behaviour in the South China Sea and other areas, as well as the need for all to unite in the fight against terrorism and increasing radicalisation around the globe, said sources.
During the meeting on October 2324, Sitharaman will also get an opportunity to review defence ties with her counterparts against the backdrop of India slowly but steadily building military ties with Asean countries like Singapore, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
The gathering will include ministers from the10 Asean members as well as India, the US, China, Japan, Australia, Russia, South Korea and New Zeal- and. India has repeatedly stressed the need for all to respect freedom of navigation in international waters, right of passage and over-flight, unimpeded commerce and access to resources in accordance with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
India, over the last several years, has worked towards deepening military ties with Asean countries, which range from weapon supplies and combat exercises to frequent exchanges and training programmes, in accordance with its ‘Act East’ policy. India, already provides military supplies and submarine training to sailors from Vietnam, and will soon begin to train its fighter pilots on Sukhoi jets.