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India joins hands with world's most populous Muslim nation to combat terror

December 12, 2016 20:45 IST

India and Indonesia have decided to expand their defence and maritime security ties and resolved to effectively deal with terrorism, calling for "zero tolerance" towards it.

The two countries, among the very few fast growing large economies globally, also decided to boost bilateral trade and investment in areas of oil and gas, renewable energy, IT and pharmaceuticals, during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

The issue of South China Sea figured prominently in the talks and in a veiled message to Beijing, both sides asserted that the dispute must be resolved through peaceful means and without resorting to threat or use of force.

Two MoUs, one on providing for cooperation in youth affairs and sports and another on standardisation were signed. A joint communique on combating illegal and unregulated fishing was also firmed up.

In his media statement, Modi said the talks focused on the full range of bilateral cooperation and that both countries agreed to prioritise defence and security cooperation, besides ramping up efforts to ensure safety and security of the sea lanes.

"As the world's most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia stands for democracy, diversity, pluralism, and social harmony. These are also our values. Our nations and societies have nurtured strong bonds of commerce and culture throughout our history," Modi, flanked by Widodo, said.

Asked whether India raised the issue of Indian national Gurdeep Singh, facing death sentence in Indonesia on drug charges, officials did not give a direct reply but said the matter is under judicial process in that country.

A joint statement said the two leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations in the strongest terms, holding that there must be "zero tolerance" for acts of terror and that all states must deal with trans-national terrorism emanating from their territory by effective criminal justice response.

"Both leaders discussed the threat from global terrorism and other transnational crimes and resolved to significantly enhance bilateral cooperation in combating terrorism, terrorist financing, money laundering, arms smuggling, trafficking in human beings and cyber crime," it said.

Modi and Widodo called upon all countries to implement the UNSC Resolution 1267 (banning militant groups and their leaders) and other relevant resolutions designating terrorist entities, seen as an apparent reference to China blocking India's move to get Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar designated as a global terrorist by the UN.

The two leaders also asked all nations to work towards eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terror networks and their financing channels and stopping cross-border terrorism,seen as a message to Pakistan.

Emphasising on the need to improve connectivity and encourage people-to-people contact, the two leaders also welcomed Indonesian airline Garuda commencing direct flights from Jakarta to Mumbai.

Referring to the South China Sea disputes, where Indonesia is also a party, the two leaders called for resolving the issue through peaceful means and in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law including the UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea).

"In this context, they urged all parties to resolve disputes through peaceful means without resorting to threat or use of force and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities, and avoid unilateral actions that raise tensions," the joint statement said.

Both the leaders reiterated support for reform of the UN and its principal organs, including the Security Council, with a view to making the the global body more democratic, transparent and efficient.

On boosting defence and security ties, the two leaders issued directives for early convening of the Defence Ministers' Dialogue and the Joint Defence Cooperation Committee meetings to review and upgrade the existing agreement on defence to a substantive bilateral defence cooperation agreement.

Noting successful completion of Staff Talks between the armies and navies of the two countries, they also agreed on holding that air force staff talks at an early date.

"They also tasked the two defence ministers to explore collaboration between defence industries for joint production of equipment with technology transfer, technical assistance, and capacity building cooperation," the statement said.

The two countries also issued a separate Joint Statement on Maritime Cooperation, outlining the agenda of engagement in maritime space including -- maritime security, maritime industry, maritime safety and navigation.

"As strategic partners and maritime neighbours, the two leaders emphasised the importance of further consolidating the security and defence cooperation between the two countries," the joint statement said.

Modi and Widodo also agreed to conclude an MoU on Maritime Cooperation in order to further strengthen and accelerate maritime cooperation.

On fighting terror, the two countries agreed to enhance cooperation including through greater exchange of information and intelligence sharing.

Talking about trade ties, the prime minister said both sides agreed that early implementation of India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement in Services and Investment, and finalisation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership would be important steps to further boost trade ties.

"To sustain the momentum of our partnership, President Widodo and I have directed for an early meeting of the existing ministerial-level mechanisms to carry forward the bilateral cooperation agenda," he said.

The Indonesian President, on his first visit to India, said there were detailed talks on ways to strengthen economic partnership, adding Indonesia wants to diversify exports to India.

In order to meet energy mix demand in the future, both leaders encouraged renewal of the MoU on cooperation in the field of oil and gas and the functioning of its joint working group, to expand wider scope of cooperation at the earliest.

The two sides also agreed to work for direct shipping links, private sector investment in port and air-port development projects, including through public-private partnerships or other concession schemes.

The joint statement said the two leaders underscored the importance of pluralism, democracy, and rule of law as key values to achieve peaceful co-existence.

The Indonesian President and Modi agreed to hold annual Summit meetings, including on the margins of multilateral events.

Photograph: Press Information Bureau

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