India stands for open & rule-based maritime borders in Indo-Pacific: Defense minister

Srinagar, OCt 16: Defense minister Rajnath Singh reaffirmed India’s resolve for open, free and rule-based maritime borders in the Indo-Pacific region.

He was delivering the inaugural address at 18th Heads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meeting (HACGAM) in New Delhi on October 15, 2022.

The minister  asserted that India, throughout history, has been a peace loving society which has never invaded a foreign land and has always respected universal human values and territorial integrity of other countries, while treating them as equal partners.

He stressed that oceanic space should be respected as a global common for the benefit of all humanity in an environmentally sustainable way.

“We stand for open, free, rule-based maritime borders in Indo-pacific, in which no nation, how-so-ever big, may be allowed to appropriate the global common or exclude others from its fair use. We are always ready and forthcoming to work with all the like-minded partner countries across various forums towards this endeavor,”Rajnath Singh said.

The minister stressed that India’s shared vision of ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth of All in Region), Sustainable Development Goals and ‘Rule Based Order at Sea’ complement the focused Indian approach of inclusive growth and lasting collaboration in the Indo-Pacific region.

He highlighted India‘s focus towards blue economy and strongly advocated the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs and preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.

Rajnath Singh voiced India‘s commitment to implement international regulations; enact legislations for maritime safety and security; establish cooperative mechanism with nations and engage in capacity building of maritime law enforcement agencies.

He emphasised that India is also encouraged by the effectiveness of agreements like Regional Cooperation Agreement for Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia and considers mutual cooperation alone as the most effective way for ensuring safety and security at sea. He called to spare no efforts while promoting such cooperative mechanisms.

The HACGAM is a multilateral forum of 23 countries viz. Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkiye, Vietnam and one Region i.e. Hong Kong (China). Additionally, two international organisations viz.

The 1st HACGAM was hosted by Japan Coast Guard in 2004 at Tokyo. This is the only forum where all the heads of Asian CG agencies congregate.

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