With eye on Bei­jing, Sithara­man to at­tend SE Asian def min­is­ters’ meet

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - | POLITICS POLICY - NEWS NET­WORK

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.

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