India Committed to Ensuring Safety of Sea Lanes: Antony

Hanoi, Oct 12 (IANS) Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Tuesday the country was committed to fighting the "serious challenge" of piracy and called for "cooperative approaches" for ensuring the security of sea lanes in the Asia-Pacific region - "one of the most important drivers of global economic growth".

Addressing the first Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus eight (Asean+) defence ministers' meeting in this Vietnam capital, Antony said piracy was "a serious challenge for the world community".

"The security of sea lanes of communication is vital in today's world. It is in the common interest of nations to keep sea lanes open, secure and free for navigation, trade and energy supplies.

"The Indian Navy is actively engaged in providing anti-piracy patrolling and escort operations in the Gulf of Aden for over two years now. India is committed to working together with other countries in the efforts to address piracy," he said.

He said the security of sea lanes was "important for the Asia-Pacific region, which is now one of the most important drivers of global economic growth".

"Through the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) and the Malacca Straits mechanisms, we are partnering with other countries in the region to improve the safety of navigation in the region," he said.

The Asean+ defence ministers' meeting, which has no formal name yet, is the creation of the South East Asian forum that brings together all the 10 South East Asian countries and their key dialogue partners - Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the US.

Antony also affirmed India's "strong commitment" to the forum for "peace and stability" in the region.

Antony is accompanied by Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar on his visit to Vietnam.


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Title: India Committed to Ensuring Safety of Sea Lanes: Antony

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