KUALA LUMPUR: Terrorism dominated the agenda of the just-concluded 18-nation East Asia Summit in the Malaysian capital, with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking the world not to retreat in the face of terror and forge new strategies for combating this global scourge.
Besides terrorism, maritime security figured prominently on the agenda with the summit’s declaration pressing for an urgent conclusion of the code of conduct on the South China Sea dispute and vigorously advocating freedom of navigation.
On terrorism and the rising spectre of the Islamic State, there was an unprecedented solidarity among leaders of the region. “In this forum, we often thought of terrorism as a peripheral problem for this region. The barbaric terrorist strikes in Paris, Ankara, Beirut, Mali and on the Russian aircraft is a stark reminder that its shadow stretches across our societies and our world, both in recruitment and choice of targets,” said Mr Modi at the summit.
“We must build new global resolve and new strategies for combating terrorism, without balancing it against political considerations,” he underlined. Pressing for fast-tracking Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, Mr Modi laid out red lines for combating this global threat. These included: I) No country should use or supports terrorism. II) There is no distinction between groups. III) There are no sanctuaries. IV) There are no funds. V) There is no access to arms.
“But, we also have to work within our societies and with our youth. I welcome the commitment to delink religion from terrorism and the efforts to promote human values that define every faith,” Mr Modi added.
Looking ahead to the Paris global climate summit, Mr Modi pushed for “crafting a balanced and concrete outcome on climate change.”
“But we must also stand together to send a clear message that we will not retreat in the face of terror.”
Here are excerpts from Prime Minister Modi’s speech at the East Asia Summit on November 22:
- This is a historic summit. We applaud the ASEAN members for realizing the vision of the ASEAN Community and charting the path to 2025.
- We expect ASEAN to continue to play a leading and central role in realizing the vision of broader regional integration and cooperation.
- We must build new global resolve and new strategies for combating terrorism, without balancing it against political considerations.
- We are also days away from the summit on climate change in Paris. There, we must not only come together to craft a balanced and concrete outcome on climate change. But we must also stand together to send a clear message that we will not retreat in the face of terror.
- Since my government entered office 18 months ago, no region has seen greater engagement from India than the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region.
- The world still looks to the region to address our global challenges and uncertainties.
- The East Asia Summit is the key forum for shaping the collective future of the region.
- East Asia Summit must continue to support the evolution of an inclusive, balanced, transparent and open regional architecture for security and cooperation.
- We must deepen our collective commitment to strengthen and abide by international rules and norms.
- India shares with ASEAN a commitment to freedom of navigation, over flight and unimpeded commerce, in accordance with accepted principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
- India hopes that all parties to the disputes in the South China Sea will abide by the Declaration on the Conduct on South China Sea and the guidelines on the implementation.
- We need stronger commitment and closer cooperation on cyber security.
- Outer space is also emerging as a major area of security concern
- India will continue to deepen bilateral security partnerships in ASEAN and with other EAS partners.
- We will remain active participants in the ASEAN-led security dialogue and cooperation forums.
- We must also work towards early conclusion of a balanced and broad-based Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
- We are taking the lead in establishing EAS Virtual Knowledge Portals on Disaster Management and Trauma Care & Nursing.
- The Nalanda University is shaping up as a world class centre of knowledge and learning.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.