India is ready to supply various types of weapon systems to Indian Ocean Region (IOR) countries, Defence Minster Rajnath Singh said on Thursday, while stressing that the countries need to ensure peace in the region through "maritime cooperation"
India is ready to supply various types of weapon systems to Indian Ocean Region (IOR) countries, Defence Minster Rajnath Singh said on Thursday, while stressing that the countries need to ensure peace in the region through "maritime cooperation".
In a reference to to the prevailing tension in the South China Sea because of China's aggressive strategy, he said that the negative impact of conflicting claims in some maritime areas highlighted the need to ensure peace in the IOR region.
However, Singh didn't name China while referring to the current situation in the South China Sea during his address at the Indian Ocean Region Defence Ministers' Conclave in Bengaluru on the sidelines of the Aero India show. A total of 27 out of the 28 IOR countries participated in the conclave and shared their views on enhancing regional cooperation.
Singh underlined that the Indian Ocean is a shared asset and a lifeline to international trade and transport due to its control of major sea lanes carrying half of the world's container ships, one-third of the world's bulk cargo traffic and two-thirds of the world's oil shipments.
He said SAGAR - Security and Growth for All in the Region - is the theme of Indian Ocean policy as outlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, adding that in line with this, the IOR conclave should focus on security, commerce, connectivity, fight against terrorism and inter-cultural exchanges.
He also emphasised the need to take economic, trade, naval cooperation and collaboration further in the region, adding that the linked futures of IOR countries depend on how they tackle emerging challenges and leverage opportunities.
Referring to India's growing aerospace and defence sector and its emergence as a global research and development hub with one of the world's largest startup ecosystems, Singh said IOR countries can leverage these sectors for mutual benefit. He said the recent order from the Indian Air Force to buy 83 LCA Tejas Mark 1 fighter jets from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was a milestone in India's indigenisation of defence manufacturing capabilities.
Noting India is ready to supply various types of weapons systems to IOR countries, he said that in consonance with Modi's vision of SAGAR, Neighbourhood First and Act East Policies, India has adopted a cooperative approach through capacity-building assistance in partner countries. This was reflected in India's supply of ships, maritime aircraft and setting-up of Coastal Surveillance Radar Systems, he said.
He also said India was developing a comprehensive Maritime Domain Awareness picture in the IOR, which has resulted in signing of technical agreements for sharing of White Shipping Information.