Home Politics Modi and Asean call for adherence to international law in SCS | India News – Times of India

Modi and Asean call for adherence to international law in SCS | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Amid efforts to finalise a code of conduct for the contested South China Sea (SCS) waters, where several Asean nations remain embroiled in maritime boundary disputes with China, India joined Asean on Thursday in again reiterating the significance of freedom of navigation and overflight and of adherence to international law, especially the UNCLOS.
Addressing the 17th India-Asean summit that was held virtually, PM Narendra Modi said there was ample closeness between India’s “Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative” and Asean’s “Outlook on Indo-Pacific”.
“We firmly believe that a cohesive and responsive Asean is essential for security and growth for all in the region,” Modi said, adding that the 10-member south-east Asian group was the nodal centre of India’s Act East Policy. Modi said India’s top priority was to speed up all types of connectivity with Asean, including economic, digital, financial and maritime.
Despite the reservations repeatedly expressed by China and Russia, India has maintained that the Indo-Pacific is a free, open, transparent and inclusive concept with Asean at its centre.
Sharing details about the issues that came up during the summit, the government said both sides noted the importance of promoting a rules-based order in the region, including through upholding adherence to international law, especially the UNCLOS.
“The leaders affirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, safety and security in the South China Sea, in particular freedom of navigation and overflight,” MEA secretary (east) Riva Ganguly Das said, adding that the discussions covered regional and international issues including terrorism.
Both India and Asean look at the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as providing the “legal framework” for carrying out trade, commerce and other activities in the SCS.
Modi participated in the summit at the invitation of Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc. Vietnam is the current chair of Asean. The Vietnamese PM was quoted as saying at the 37th Asean summit on Thursday that the member-states were looking forward to early conclusion of a code of conduct which is “effective, substantive and consistent with international law, particularly the UNCLOS”.
However, while China and Asean are looking to finalise the code of conduct by next year, India and the US had recently warned, after their 2+2 ministerial dialogue, that the code of conduct should not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of any nation in accordance with international law. This was meant to prevent China, which continues to make expansive claims in disputed waters, from having its way in the negotiations for an effective code of conduct.
According to Das, Modi also underscored the importance of strengthening convergence between India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative and Asean Outlook on Indo-Pacific to ensure a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.
Modi also announced a contribution of $1 million to Covid-19 Asean Response Fund and reiterated India’s offer of $1 billion Line of Credit to support Asean connectivity.



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