Defence Ministers from India and several Asia-Pacific countries, including China and the United States, affirmed on Tuesday their collective “commitment to enhance peace, security, and prosperity in the region.”

Eighteen countries have come together under the banner of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus). The participants are all 10 members of the ASEAN and their key dialogue partners — Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States.

Meeting in Hanoi, for the first time ever under this new banner, the Ministers from 18 countries pledged to “strengthen regional defence and security cooperation” in areas of mutual interest. Towards this objective, these Asia-Pacific partners would focus on “concrete and practical” measures.

The new process, aimed at developing “robust” and “effective … regional security architecture,” would be fostered through “greater dialogue and exchange among the ADMM-Plus defence establishments.”

The Ministers also agreed that ASEAN would have “centrality” in this new endeavour of addressing “common security challenges.”

Antony for synergy

Addressing the ADMM-Plus conference, Defence Minister A. K. Antony called for the development of “synergy” among the participating powers to address non-traditional security challenges. “The growth of terrorism, the growing role of non-state actors, cyber threats etc. are markers in the evolution of the global security construct during the last decade or so. Asia has been the theatre for the unfolding of many of these developments.”

Citing maritime security as a regional and global priority, Mr. Antony said: “The Indian Navy is actively engaged in providing anti-piracy patrolling and escort operations in the Gulf of Aden for over two years now.”

New Delhi was also proactive in promoting a cooperative approach among the Asia-Pacific States towards the security of sea-lanes. India was already a party to the regional initiatives for safe navigation along the Malacca Strait and other maritime zones along East Asia.

Inaugurating the daylong conference, the Vietnamese Prime Minister and host, Nguyen Tan Dung, suggested that the participating countries harmonise security-related standards and evolve codes of conduct so as to enhance regional peace.

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates and his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie met on the sidelines of the ADMM-Plus conference.

Keywords: ASEAN

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