India will work with all nations for peace: Defence Secy

INDIA WILL continue to oppose any nation’s attempt at aggression, whether on land or in the maritime domain, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar said on Monday. He also mentioned, without naming any country, that an unprecedented expansion of conventional navy in the Pacific Ocean and certain presence which may not be innocent, has the potential to kickstart another arms race among the nations.

“India will work with all willing nations for peace in the region. Standing for a rules-bound world, India will continue to oppose attempts of aggression and to deter them on land and the sea,” Kumar said. He mentioned that the maritime domain is “so vast and challenges are so diverse that going alone is not an option for practically any country”.

“India remained engaged in most of important exercises and activities in the Indo-Pacific” and the western Indian Ocean Region (IOR) for a long time, he said, adding that some activities “which started modestly decades ago, such as Exercise Milan or Malabar, today grew into substantive ones”.

Addressing the Goa Maritime Conclave 2021, with Maritime Security and Emerging Non-Traditional Threats: A Case for Proactive Role for IOR Navies as its theme, Kumar said “while we talk of non-traditional threats, we cannot ignore the impact of expansion at an unprecedented speed of conventional navy in the Pacific”.

“We are also witnessing enhancement of certain maritime presence and passages in our region, which may not be always be innocent. The negative effects of such rapid expansion are felt far beyond the Pacific. Though it is early to conclude, such expansion has potential to trigger others to acquire additional capabilities and thus start a new genre of arms race,” he said.

He mentioned that India has been engaging and will continue to engage nations in the region both bilaterally and through other frameworks as well. “Towards closer cooperation and understanding there is a need to enhance common maritime domain awareness,” he said, adding that India has established its Information Fusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) and wants friendly maritime neighbours to participate in it.

He said that maritime security and economic prosperity have been “inter-related and interdependent for times immemorial”. With the increasing incidents of severe weather events, which he said are widely agreed to be the fallout of climate change, it “further necessitates collective strategies and support measures than ever before”.

He mentioned that India is preparing a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for “dealing with disaster related situations in the Asia-Pacific and we hope to share with all concerned nations”. He said it will benefit “our collective preparedness to deal with these calamities”.

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