Second Asean Defence Ministers’ Meeting (Plus) issues the Joint Declaration

The second ADMM Plus meeting was held in Brunei on today. The Minister of State for Defence Shri Jitendra Singh led the Indian delegation at the meeting. The Ministers issued a joint Declaration at the end of the meeting in which it has been decided that the ADMM Plus countries will establish practical measures that reduce vulnerability to miscalculation and avoid misunderstanding and undesirable incidents at sea.

Among other decisions taken at the meeting of the ADMM Plus, was the establishment of an additional (sixth) Expert Working Group on Humanitarian Mine Action which will be co-chaired by India with Vietnam.

Following is the text of speech rendered by the Minister of State for Defence Shri Jitendra Singh at the second ADMM Plus meeting held in Brunei.

“I am honoured to be present at the second meeting of the ADMM Plus. At the outset I would like to express my sincere gratitude to our hosts and in particular to you, Mr Chairman, for the warm hospitality extended to me and my delegation. I would also like to take this opportunity to convey the good wishes of my senior colleague and the Defence Minister Mr A K Antony who was unable to participate in this important event due to Parliament related work.

India views our partnership with the ASEAN as a critical element of our vision of a stable, secure and prosperous Asia and its surrounding Indian Ocean and Pacific regions. We acknowledge that our own security and prosperity are vitally linked to the Asia Pacific region. Therefore, three years ago, we welcomed the establishment of the ADMM Plus and viewed our participation in this forum as a natural and logical corollary to our multifaceted political, economic and security engagement with the ASEAN member states. We see this Ministerial meeting as an important opportunity to review progress and to further strengthen cooperation on the basis of the agreed declaration that will be adopted today.

We commend the ASEAN for its role as the principal architect and driver of the economic and security cooperation structures which are emerging in the region. By building mechanisms which are based on the principles of inclusivity, dialogue and consensus, the ASEAN has created opportunities for all of us in this region to contribute towards peace and prosperity. ASEAN centrality and leadership have been rightly recognised as the essential elements for the success of these forums and India fully supports ASEAN’s central role in these efforts.

The strategic environment in the region remains in a state of flux. This region represents a significant portion of the world’s population, its economic strength and also the largest militaries. We cannot, therefore, miss the opportunity that this forum presents, to facilitate an environment of peace and stability, which would be conducive to the aspirations of every nation in this region.

The ADMM Plus was built with the objective of developing synergy and cooperative frameworks to enable us to address the complex security challenges which we face. We hope that the model of accommodation and consensus and of following a gradual, step by step approach will positively influence the conduct of all States in the region We have, therefore, welcomed the proposal to convene this forum every two years.

Terrorism represents a major threat to the peace, stability and security of the entire region. India has been urging that the global regime against terrorism needs to be strengthened through the early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the UN. To deal with terror groups which operate across borders and have acquired global reach, we must combine efforts to ensure that terrorist sanctuaries, safe havens and the networks for financing to terrorist groups are dismantled.

Since the main threat to peace and stability in Afghanistan emanates from terrorism, it is imperative that terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens, particularly those beyond Afghan borders, are dismantled. The international community must redouble efforts to assist Afghanistan become a stable, democratic and pluralistic state. India supports the efforts of the Afghan Government to establish a peaceful dialogue with all armed opposition groups. The reconciliation process must be Afghan- led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled, within the framework of the Afghan constitution and internationally accepted redlines. The recent attack against our Consulate in Jalalabad will not deter us in our efforts to assist Afghanistan in the reconstruction and development efforts.

The deteriorating situation in Syria is a matter of continuing concern to the international community. India has supported calls for stopping of violence and commencement of an inclusive national dialogue to resolve the conflict through peaceful political means. The dialogue should also take into account the legitimate aspirations of all Syrians, in accordance with internationally approved political and legal principles including the relevant UNSC resolutions. If recent reports regarding use of chemical weapons outside Damascus are confirmed by the UN investigation team, it would be a matter of grave concern. The international legal norm against the use of chemical weapons must not be breached. India has consistently supported the complete destruction and elimination of chemical weapon worldwide and for strict measures to prevent their access to non-state actors and terrorist groups.

India has expressed deep concern about the nuclear test conducted by DPRK in February 2013. We support the objective of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the resumption of talks among the relevant parties.

Issues of maritime security in this region are being addressed at a number of levels and through various dialogue frameworks. The safety and security of the sea lanes of communication is of paramount importance. We note that cooperation and coordination among States has improved their abilityto address non-state threats to maritime security. There is need to reaffirm the importance of unimpeded right of passage and other maritime rights in accordance with the accepted principles of international law. These principles should be respected by all. Maintenance of peace and security in the region is of vital interest and sovereignty issues must be resolved peacefully by all countries concerned, in accordance with international law. We oppose the use or the threat of use of force. We hope that all parties to disputes in the South China Sea region will abide by the 2002 Declaration on Conduct in the South China Sea and work together to ensure peaceful resolution of disputes, in accordance with international law, including the UNCLOS. We urge all parties concerned to take forward these discussions towards adoption of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea on the basis of consensus.

We commend the useful work that has been done by the 5 Expert Working Groups in their mandated areas and we look forward to the strengthening of cooperation that has been established between our defence establishments. India is committed to strengthening the ADMM– Plus forum. Our participation in the recent HADR exercise at Brunei Darussalam and our already stated desire to partner with Vietnam in a new area of cooperation, namely Humanitarian Mine Action, are a reflection of our commitment to contribute to the success of this Forum.

We agree that there is need to steer the activities of ADMM – Plus in a manner that adds value to its efforts and to synergise the activities of this forum with other forums like ARF and EAS. The leaders of ADSOM – Plus should work out efficient modalities to ensure greater synergy and efficiency.

To end, I wish to reaffirm India’s commitment to work with our partners in this forum to create an open, balanced and rule-based security architecture that is capable of addressing current and future challenges to peace and stability in this region.

I thank you, Mr Chairman and Excellencies, for this opportunity to share my views. I also take this opportunity to convey our felicitations and good wishes to our friend and neighbour Myanmar, as it prepares to take on the Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014.”