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Rediff.com  » News » India managing complexities in ties with China: Sitharaman in Moscow

India managing complexities in ties with China: Sitharaman in Moscow

April 04, 2018 23:20 IST

Sitharaman, who is in Russia on a three-day visit, also met her Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe on the sidelines of the international security conference.

IMAGE: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with her Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe during the Seventh Moscow Conference on International Security in Moscow on Wednesday. Photograph: Kind courtesy @DefenceMinIndia/Twitter

India is managing the complexities in its relationship with China even as it seeks to make progress within the framework of a broader developmental partnership, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday.

Addressing the Seventh Moscow Conference on International Security in the Russian capital, Sitharaman also expressed concern over the resurgence of territorial disputes in the maritime domain in the region.

"We continue to manage the complexities in the India-China relationship even as we seek to make progress within the framework of a broader developmental partnership," she said.

 

Sitharaman, who is in Russia on a three-day visit, also met her Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe on the sidelines of the international security conference.

They are understood to have exchanged views on bilateral issues, particularly on the situation along the nearly 4,000 km-border between the two countries, official sources said.

There was no official details about the meeting.

Sitharaman also expressed concern over the resurgence of territorial disputes in the maritime domain in the region.

"Maritime territorial disputes are extremely complex. We need to ensure that such issues are managed effectively and solely through peaceful means," she said.

Noting that the past few decades of growth have transformed the Indo-Pacific region into the most dynamic engine of the global economy, she said, "We need to ensure that the prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region is not put at risk through unilateral actions that can undermine regional peace and stability".

She said the rights of freedom of navigation and over-flight as well as unimpeded commerce should be ensured.

"For India, this is vital to sustain its own economic engagement with the Indo-Pacific region for mutual benefit," she added.

China has been asserting its vast claims to the South China Sea, transforming reefs into islands capable of hosting military equipment.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan have their own claims to the sea, while United States' warships regularly conduct freedom of navigation operations near islands controlled by Beijing.

Earlier, addressing the conference, Sitharaman said the scourge of terrorism remains a primary international security challenge as it expressed concern over the continuing patronage of some 'irresponsible states' to terrorist groups, in an apparent reference to Pakistan.

She said that terrorists are reinventing themselves in newer and more dangerous manifestations.

"The radicalisation of young minds using new technologies and social media networks, the trend of lone-wolf attacks and the continuing patronage of some irresponsible states to terrorist groups, need to be addressed in a comprehensive manner," she told the gathering.

Sitharaman said that efforts to establish a territorial base in West Asia by terrorists have been dealt a body blow, referring to the defeat of Islamic State terror group in Iraq and Syria.

"This was possible because broad objectives of all players, in particular the major international actors, were in alignment. This has been a silver lining in an otherwise challenging global scenario. It highlights the possibilities for greater cooperation in addressing the shared challenges we all face," she said.

She said that further efforts are necessary to ensure that there is no re-emergence of terrorism in the region and prevent its spill-over onto the wider region by returning terrorists.

"We should also resolutely resist attempts by some states to retain influence through terrorist proxies. We in India are well aware of such nefarious designs," the minister said.

"Efforts by states to continue training, funding or ideological support to terrorist groups for their narrow objectives should be repulsed effectively, using forceful methods where necessary," she asserted.

Sitharaman lauded Russia for re-establishing its role and influence in global strategic and defence matters.

"For us in India, Russia has been and remains a long-standing friend and partner with whom we share a Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership," she said.

"For India, cooperation with Russia is vital in ensuring stability and security in our shared Eurasian neighbourhood, especially in addressing the menace of terrorism. We also seek a cooperative relationship with Russia for broad based and mutually beneficial economic growth and development in the region," Sitharaman added.

She also expressed concern over serious differences between Russia and some countries, saying the solution to the key challenges require Russia's active involvement.

The minister said specific and concrete efforts must be made to work towards enhancing mutual confidence.

"We need to avoid perspectives that seek to enhance narrow gains while undermining the larger good," she said.

"In the economic sphere, we need to guard against protectionism. Barriers to movement of skilled labour and the closing of borders are unlikely to address the issues involved. We also need to ensure that benefits of growth continue to flow to less affluent regions," she said.

"We cannot achieve stability by devising new ways to perpetuate affluence and keeping parts of the world in relative deprivation," the minister said.

She said violent conflict in parts of West Asia, persistence of instability in Afghanistan and rising threats to security in the wider Asia Pacific region are threatening the gains made over the past few decades of growth and development in Asia.

"In particular, the rise of extremist, fundamentalist and terrorist groups needs to be addressed urgently. Violent activities of these groups are also opening up newer sectarian fissures which pose longer term challenges to stability within and across borders," she said.

On Afghanistan, she said a policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism is essential. "India is committed to supporting the emergence of a secure, stable and peaceful Afghanistan. We believe this is achievable with the continued commitment of the international community," she said.

Sitharaman also said that the resurgence of territorial disputes in the maritime domain is another concern and asserted that the rights of freedom of navigation and over-flight as well as unimpeded commerce should be ensured.

"There is also scope for cooperative approaches to address the growing salience of non-traditional security challenges such as climate change, food and energy insecurity, financial instability and the disruptive effects of technology," she said.

She said India is playing its due role in maintenance of regional and international peace and stability.

"In our region, we have worked to share the benefits of our own growth by seeking to elevate the economic trajectory of our neighbours," she added.

"Economic and diplomatic engagement with the Eurasian region is a key priority for India. Building on our strong ties with Russia, we are strengthening our linkages with Central Asian countries," she said.

"We continue to manage the complexities in the India-China relationship even as we seek to make progress within the framework of a broader developmental partnership. India is also working with ASEAN countries and other partners to build a regional architecture that is open, balanced and ensures sovereignty and security of all countries," she added.

"I am confident that India's partnerships will contribute to a more stable and peaceful environment, spur greater economic development and establish India's role as a factor for growth and stability in our region and beyond," she added.

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