The ability to collectively respond to challenges based on the fundamentals of freedom, inclusivity and openness in the region will define its future, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said at an ASEAN-led forum on Thursday.
“Threats to the rules-based order, maritime security, cyber-related crimes and terrorism, just to name a few, remain the challenges that we need to address as a forum,” he said.
Singh was speaking at the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), a platform comprising 10-nation ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and its eight dialogue partners including India.
In the virtual meeting, the defence minister also called for sustained efforts to address the threats of bioterrorism, transnational trafficking and pandemics.
“Our ability, to collectively respond to challenges in the region based on the fundamentals of freedom, inclusivity and openness will define our future,” he said.
The comments came in the backdrop of the over seven-month-long border row between India and China in eastern Ladakh.
In his address, Singh also underlined the need for confronting the challenges emerging out of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Amongst the new challenges that have emerged, COVID-19 has changed the world and left us many hurdles to overcome. Unfortunately, the disruptive effect of the pandemic is still unfolding,” the defence minister said.
“The challenge is, therefore, to make sure that the world economy moves on the path of recovery and when it does gather steam, to ensure that the recovery leaves no one behind,” he added.
The inaugural ADMM-Plus was convened in Hanoi in 2010. The defence ministers then had agreed on five areas of practical cooperation to pursue under the new mechanism, including maritime security, counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping operations. The ties between India and ASEAN have been on an upswing in the last few years with the focus being on ramping up cooperation in the areas of trade and investment as well as security and defence.