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India seeks peaceful solutions to South China Sea disputes

By Ians English

Vientiane/New Delhi, July 26: India on Tuesday (July 26) called for peaceful solutions to the disputes in the South China Sea as the safety of the shipping routes through these waters was crucial for stability in the region.

"The sea lanes of communication passing through the South China Sea are critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development," Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh said while addressing the 5th East Asia Foreign Ministers Meeting in Vientiane, Laos.


"India supports freedom of navigation, over flight and unimpeded commerce, based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the Unclos (UN Convention on Law of the Seas)," he stated.

"India believes that states should resolve disputes through peaceful means without threat or use of force and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate disputes affecting peace and stability."

Referring to the ruling by an international arbitration tribunal in The Hague earlier in favour of the Philippines over China on the South China Sea dispute, Singh said that as a state party to Unclos, India urged all parties to show utmost respect for Unclos which establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans.

He called for an international legal regime to fight the global scourge of terrorism.

"The spate of terrorist attacks in country after country have shocked humanity to the core," he stated.

"In this scenario, it is vital to construct a strong international legal regime, built upon the principle of 'zero tolerance' for direct or indirect support to terrorism."

Without naming Pakistan Singh said deepening of security cooperation "must be based on an outright rejection of state sponsored terrorism and isolating those who harbour, support, finance or sponsor terrorists, without distinguishing between 'good' or 'bad' terrorists, and while de-linking religion from terrorism".

"Acts of terrorism are sustained by the ideological, logistical and financial infrastructure that exists in parts of our region," he said.

He also sought support for the India-initiated Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) at the United Nations.

"Today's realities warrant that nations act for its urgent finalisation, to rein in the human and material toll inflicted by acts of terror. I urge EAS support for this initiative," he said.

Singh said India wanted North Korea to take concrete actions towards denuclearisation and fully comply with its international obligations, including relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the commitments it has undertaken under the 2005 Joint Statement.

"We call for heightened vigilance on proliferation of materials and technologies related to nuclear weapons and missiles," he stated.

He said the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (Asean) should be at the heart of the security architecture of the region.

"The evolving regional security architecture in the Asia-Pacific should be open, transparent and inclusive," Singh said.

"At this stage, it must be dialogue-centred, and Asean must remain at its heart. For us, Asean centrality is as much a practical construct as it is an acknowledgement of Asean's historic role in Asian regional cooperation and integration."


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