Times of Oman
Nov 25, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 07:18 PM GMT
India supports freedom of access in South China Sea
August 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the launching ceremony of the logo of the Asean Regional Forum Disaster Relief Exercises in Nay Pyi Taw, Sunday. Photo – AFP

NAY PYI TAW (Myanmar):  Amid tensions over territorial claims in the South China Sea overshadowing the Asean and East Asia Summit, India Sunday said it supports freedom of navigation and access to resources in the area and that the dispute must be resolved as per international law.

In her address at the 4th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said maritime territorial disputes have the potential for undermining comprehensive security and mutual confidence. 

"India opposes the use or threat of use of force and supports freedom of navigation and access to resources in accordance with principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.  "We hope that progress will be made with respect to implementation of Guidelines to the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the adoption of a Code of Conduct on the basis of consensus," she said.  

China's opposition
State-run ONGC Videsh Limited has operation in number of oil blocks in South China Sea which were offered to it by Vietnam. China has been objecting to India's oil exploration projects in the disputed waters. China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, which lies on key shipping routes and is believed to be rich in mineral and oil. But its claims clashes with Asean states Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as Taiwan.

On the Korean issue, Swaraj said, "India continues to be seriously concerned about the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the proliferation of WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) in the region."

Talking about Thailand, she said as a friendly neighbour, India supports ongoing dialogue and the restoration of the democratic process in that country.  Referring to security related issues, Swaraj said non- traditional security threats such as international terrorism, piracy, trans-national crimes, drug-trafficking, maritime security and proliferation of sensitive items require a more comprehensive response from the international community.  "We are seeing different theatres getting interconnected through terror networks and a globalisation of supply chains of ideology, radicalisation, recruitment, training and financing of terrorism," she said.

Highlighting issues relating to maritime security, she said India has been working with coastal states in the Indian Ocean region to help them build capacities to counter piracy and ensure maritime security.  

"We have, however, flagged our concern at the continued emergence of Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSC) and Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP) and the security implications of the increasing use of PCASP by merchant vessels," she said. 

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