“As the world’s most dynamic and economically-vibrant region, Asia has the potential to serve as a growth engine for the rest of the world” Riva Ganguly Das

Stressing upon a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region, India on Thursday called for multi-faceted cooperation to address challenges in the region.

“We can gain from multifaceted cooperation to address the common challenges in the Indo-Pacific region with ASEAN at its centre,” said, Secretary East, Riva Ganguly Das in her remarks at the 17th ministerial meeting of Asia Cooperation Dialogue held in Ankara, Turkey on Thursday.

Participating through video conferencing, she said, “The Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019 calls for a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region, which promotes Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR)”.

As the world’s most dynamic and economically-vibrant region, Asia has the potential to serve as a growth engine for the rest of the world and contribute to global economic recovery in the post-pandemic scenario.

In addition, there are deep cultural connections, like the common thread of Buddhism, which can be further reinforced to enhance connectivity in the region.

She also underlined the threat of terrorism and urged Asian leaders to eliminate terrorism in all forms.

India’s Secretary (East) cautioned, “Even amidst the ongoing pandemic, terrorism continues to pose a critical threat. We must eliminate terrorism in all its forms, for terrorists do not believe in a nation, state or nationalism”.

Highlighting the challenges that range from the pandemic to terrorism, cyber-crimes and conflicts over resources and territory, she called for a proactive engagement to ensure peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

The Asia Cooperation dialogue was established as an inter-governmental forum in 2002 to further cooperation among Asian countries. The forum that has its secretariat in Kuwait includes 35 member countries and the highest number of attendees from Asia. The theme of the 17th Asia Cooperation Dialogue Ministerial meeting hosted by Turkey as the chair was “New normal and safe and healthy tourism.”

The Secretary East argued that there needs to be a strong multilateral cooperation for waging a collective fight against the pandemic and for global economic recovery.

“Currently, our focus is on vaccines and rapid testing, so essential for travel normalcy. At this time, we need to strengthen our efforts aimed at the development of equitable and universal access to diagnostic tools, treatments and vaccines in order to promote safe and healthy tourism,” she said.

“India stands ready to collaborate with our partners in the international community towards achieving this goal. We have already supplied Covid related assistance to over 150 countries. Beginning January 20th, vaccines from India have started reaching our neighbourhood under grant assistance to Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Seychelles, reflecting India’s commitment to use its vaccine production and delivery capacity to help all of humanity to fight the COVID19 pandemic,” the Secretary East added.

Talking about connectivity programme of India, she said New Delhi has undertaken a number of initiatives to promote connectivity in Asia like the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and its further extension to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Through initiatives like the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), “we hope to bring positive global climate action as well as make infrastructure disaster resilient. In addition, India has extended development assistance worth US$ 15.9 billion to Asian countries, covering transport, power generation and distribution, agriculture, manufacturing industries, health-care, education and capacity building,” she said.