India, Indonesia for rules-based and peaceful Indo-Pacific region
Jakarta, May 30 : India and Indonesia today underlined the importance of a free, open, transparent, rules-based and peaceful Indo-Pacific region, amidst China flexing its military muscles in the strategic East and South China seas.
Noting that both India and Indonesia are maritime neighbours and sea faring nations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indonesian President Joko Widodo issued the Shared Vision of the two countries on Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
The document, the first with any ASEAN country, outlines areas of maritime cooperation and envisages security architecture in the Indo-Pacific region, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
The document reiterated the importance of achieving a “free, open, transparent, rules-based, peaceful, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, where sovereignty and territorial integrity, international law, in particular UNCLOS, freedom of navigation and overflight, sustainable development and an open, free, fair and mutually beneficial trade and investment system are respected”.
The release of the document comes at a time when China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. Beijing has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region.
China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. But Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims. In the East China Sea, Beijing has territorial disputes with Japan.
The South China Sea and the East China Sea are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources. They are also vital to global trade.
Prime Minister Modi and President Widodo said they were keen to strengthen bilateral maritime cooperation for promotion of peace, stability and bringing in robust economic growth and prosperity to the Indo-Pacific region.
Noting that with a coastline of 7,500 kms, India occupies a central position in the Indo-Pacific, while Indonesia as the largest archipelagic State in the world, with a coastline of 108,000 kms, is a fulcrum that connects the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.
The two oceans represent a combined maritime region which is important for global maritime trade and commerce, the document said.
It highlighted the importance to adhering to the rights and obligations under the international law including the Charter of the United Nations, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1976 Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC).
The two countries acknowledged the need to maintain maritime safety and security for peace, stability and sustainable economic growth and development in the maritime waters of the Indo-Pacific region as enshrined by UNCLOS and relevant international laws.
It noted that free and open seas, as regulated by UNCLOS, are essential for peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the international community.
The document also highlighted the importance to address the emerging maritime security issues facing the Indo-Pacific region including the smuggling of people, arms, drugs and money; illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; and the movement of terrorists.
It recognised the importance of the blue economy as a driver of inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development in the region.
The document said both sides have agreed to encourage greater flow of goods, services, investment and technology between the two countries and the region to further develop their economies sustainably.
The two countries also agreed to combat climate change and ensure protection of environment and natural resources.
They also agreed to combat marine plastic debris through bilateral and regional cooperation.
India and Indonesia have decided to expand cooperation in disaster risk management, especially aid to victims of disasters.
The two countries agreed to boost the existing naval cooperation including the bilateral Coordinated Patrols initiated in 2002 between the Navies of the two countries and commencement of regular bilateral naval exercises.
They concurred to build on the existing maritime boundary agreements and reaffirming support to the technical meetings for expeditious negotiations for a mutually acceptable solution on the delimitation of maritime boundaries between the two countries based on the principles of international law, including UNCLOS.
Modi, Widodo visit Istiqlal Mosque
Jakarta, May 30: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today paid a visit to Indonesia’s grand Istiqlal Mosque, the largest in Southeast Asia, during his first official visit to the country.
Prime Minister Modi was accompanied by Indonesia President Joko Widodo during his visit to the mosque which was built to commemorate Indonesian independence and opened to the public in 1978.
“Glad to have visited the Istiqlal Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world,” Modi said in a tweet.
“Ramadan Karim! Indonesian President @jokowi accompanied PM @narendramodi during a visit to Istiqlal Mosque, the national mosque of Indonesia and the largest in southeast Asia, in the holy month of Ramadan,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
Istiqlal Mosque is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia and the third largest Sunni mosque in term of capacity. It is named ‘Istiqlal’, an Arabic word for “independence”.
Positioned next to Merdeka Square and the Jakarta Cathedral, the mosque was built after 17 years of construction and can accommodate over 120,000 worshippers.
Among foreign dignitaries who have visited the mosque in the past include former US Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, Britain’s Prince Charles, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and King Salman of Saudi Arabia.
Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population followed by Pakistan and India.
Modi arrived in the Indonesian capital Jakarta yesterday on the first leg of his three-nation tour to East Asia during which he will also travel to Malaysia and Singapore to further boost India’s Act East Policy.