Ashgabat: India’s engagement with the Indo-Pacific goes back several centuries and the country stands for an open, balanced, rules-based and stable international trade regime in the strategically vital region, President Ram Nath Kovind has said.
Interacting with young students at the prestigious Institute of International Relations here on Saturday, President Kovind said India’s approach is based on cooperation and collaboration and is elaborated through the vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region).
SAGAR guides our approach towards both the Indian Ocean and the Indo-Pacific regions, he said in a statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry on Sunday.
“While Indo-Pacific’ is a recent addition to the geopolitical lexicon, India’s engagement with the Indo-Pacific region goes back several centuries. The dynamism and vitality of the region make it a global economic centre. We stand for an open, balanced, rules-based and stable international trade regime in the Indo-Pacific, the president said, in a veiled reference to China which has been acting aggressively in the region.
India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China’s rising military manoeuvring in the resource-rich region.
China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea. China also has territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea.
He said one of the key pillars of India’s foreign policy in recent years has been the “Neighbourhood First policy, the focus of which is to enhance connectivity, augment trade and investment, and build a secure and stable neighbourhood.
The president said connectivity with the Central Asian countries remains a key priority for India, which is a member of both the International North-South Transport Corridor and the Ashgabat agreement.
We have taken steps to operationalise the Chabahar port in Iran which can provide a secure, viable and unhindered access to the sea for the Central Asian countries, he said, adding that India stands ready to cooperate, invest and build connectivity in the region.
Kovind said it was important to ensure while expanding connectivity that such initiatives are consultative, transparent and participatory, with respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.
One of the focus areas of Indian foreign policy in the last few years has been the revitalisation of our historical ties with the Central Asian countries, which are a part of our extended neighbourhood’, he said.
As developing countries, India and Central Asian countries share common perspectives and similar approaches. We face common challenges such as terrorism, extremism, radicalisation, drug trafficking etc. India has also strategic relations with most of the Central Asian countries, he added.
The president said India and Turkmenistan are ancient civilisations but young nations.
Last year, your country celebrated the 30th anniversary of independence while the people of India are celebrating 75 years of our independence this year. The renowned Turkmen poet Magtymguly Pyragy said, If God gets wings, he will fly to India’, he said.
Noting that India is the birthplace of at least four major religions, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism., Kovind said that over 200 million Muslims proudly call India their home.
India’s receptiveness to other cultures has been its hallmark while unity in diversity remains its inherent strength, he said.
President Kovind also made remarks on India’s position on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, saying New Delhi has been steadfast and consistent in its stand.
We have emphasised that the current global order is anchored in international law, UN Charter, and respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of states. We are deeply concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation. We have called for an immediate cessation of violence and hostilities and a return to the path of dialogue and diplomacy. We have also provided humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, he said.
He said India values the support of Turkmenistan for the country’s permanent membership in a reformed and expanded UN Security Council.
During our ongoing non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council, India has prioritised development, fight against terrorism, reform of the multilateral system, international peace and security, and technology with a human touch, he said.
President Kovid was accorded a ceremonial guard of honour here on Friday as he began his three-day state visit to Turkmenistan during which he will meet the leadership of the resource-rich Central Asian country and discuss ways to boost bilateral ties. —PTI