Don’t militarise South China Sea, says Rajnath

“As dialogue remains on the table, we hope missile launches and such destabilising activities will cease,” he stated.

Updated - November 19, 2019 08:38 am IST

Published - November 19, 2019 08:32 am IST - NEW DELHI

Rajnath Singh | File

Rajnath Singh | File

Taking note of the start of negotiations between the Association of South East Asians Nations (Asean) and China for a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea (SCS), Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday that India “emphasises the need to protect the rights of States that are not party to these negotiations.”

“It is natural for the international community to have an interest in open sea lanes of communication. We hope that the situation remains stable, without the use, or threat of use of force, or militarisation of the region,” Mr. Singh said, addressing the 6th Asean Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus) in Bangkok.

He expressed the hope that the outcome of these talks would be in keeping with all relevant international laws, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and promote freedom of navigation, overflight and lawful commerce in the SCS.

On North Korea, Mr. Singh said, India looks forward to progress on the effort to de-nuclearise the Korean peninsula through dialogue and to address all related issues including “the proliferation trail that links South and East Asia.”

“As dialogue remains on the table, we hope missile launches and such destabilising activities will cease,” he stated.

He reiterated that India sees the network of Asean-led frameworks like the East Asia Summit, the Asean Regional Forum, the ADMM Plus and Expanded Asean Maritime Forum as providing key building blocks of an emerging Asean-centred regional security architecture.

“India was one of the first countries to welcome the Asean Outlook on The Indo-Pacific,” Mr. Singh observed and added, “With the adoption of the Asean Outlook, this is clearly an idea whose time has come.”

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