'India ready to help in Malacca Strait security'
Singapore, Jun 4: India has offered to help secure the Malacca Strait in any capacity that the littoral states deem necessary.
Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee made the offer here during the 5th Shangri-La Dialogue, a meeting of Defence ministers from countries which have political and commercial interest in the South East Asian region.
''India has developed capabilities in various aspects of maritime security and would be most willing to share its expertise with countries of the region,'' Mr Mukherjee said yesterday.
Welcoming the offer, Singapore Defence Minister Teo Chee Han said the Indian help would have to be accepted by the littoral states.
Indonesia and Malaysia have been reluctant to accept significant foreign involvement in the security of the Strait which has one of the highest levels of pirate attacks on ships, carrying the largest amount of cargoes through the world's busiest waterway from Indian subcontinent to the Far East.
More than 50 per cent of India's maritime trade passes through the Strait and India has been working with the countries in the region both bilaterally and multilaterally on the security issue.
''The dimensions of maritime security loom large on radar screen.
Singapore stands at the crossroad of one of the important waterways of the world, the Straits of Malacca,'' the Defence Minister said.
''In recent years, piracy has been a major challenge in this region and we can only hope that maritime terrorism does not follow closely behind,'' he cautioned.
Mr Mukherjee added that there was a need to increase and strengthen regional cooperation to enhance maritime security.