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Modi calls for respect for global maritime norms

Nay Pyi Taw: Against the backdrop of China's raging maritime disputes with some southeast Asian countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said all nations have a responsibility to follow international law and norms on maritime
PTI November 12, 2014 20:04 IST
PTI

Nay Pyi Taw: Against the backdrop of China's raging maritime disputes with some southeast Asian countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said all nations have a responsibility to follow international law and norms on maritime issues and hoped for an early conclusion of a code of conduct to resolve the matter.

After making a passing reference to maritime disputes in general and the need for following international norms in his opening remarks at the 12th India-ASEAN summit, Modi delved on the South China Sea dispute in a little more detail in his closing statement.

“For peace and stability in South China Sea, everyone should follow international norms and law. This includes the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. We also hope that you will be able to successfully implement the Guidelines to the 2002 Declaration on Conduct and that the Code of Conduct on South China Sea can be concluded soon on the basis of consensus,” he said at the end of the summit deliberations.

“We (India and ASEAN) are both keen to enhance our cooperation in advancing balance, peace and stability in the region,” Modi said.

“And, in this world, maritime trade and passage, and therefore, maritime security has become even more important.  We all have the responsibility that we all follow international law and norms on maritime issues, as we do in the realm of air passage. In future, we will also need this in space,” he added.

Though Modi did not name any country but the comments may be seen as targeting China which is engaged in maritime territorial disputes with a number of its neighbours, including Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.  

During his recent US visit, Modi and President Barack Obama had pledged to intensify cooperation in maritime security to ensure freedom of navigation in comments that came against the backdrop of China's expanding maritime ambitions.

They had stressed the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region especially in the South China Sea.  During his Japan visit as well, Modi had deplored the “expansionist” tendency among some countries which “encroach” upon seas of others, in oblique comments against China which also has a maritime dispute with Japan over islands in the East China Sea.

ASEAN comprises 10 countries - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.