New Delhi: Against the backdrop of growing Chinese assertion in South China Sea, India on Thursday said it was opposed to the use of threat and force to resolve the disputes and urged the countries concerned to resolve the issues peacefully in accordance with international conventions.
Addressing the ASEAN Defence Ministers` Meeting Plus at Brunei, Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh apparently hit out at Pakistan saying terrorism was main threat to the stability of Afghanistan and terror sanctuaries and safe havens "particularly those beyond Afghan borders" should be dismantled.
"We oppose the use or the threat of use of force. We hope that all parties to disputes in the South China Sea region will abide by 2002 Declaration on Conduct there and work together to ensure peaceful resolution of disputes, in accordance with international laws."
"We urge all parties concerned to take forward these discussions towards adoption of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea on the basis of consensus," he said.
At the end of the meeting, a joint declaration was issued where it was decided that the member countries will establish practical measures to reduce vulnerability to miscalculation and avoid misunderstanding and undesirable incidents at sea.
Singh said there was a need to reaffirm the importance of unimpeded right of passage and other maritime rights in accordance with the accepted principles of international law.
"These principles should be respected by all. Maintenance of peace and security in the region is of vital interest and sovereignty issues must be resolved peacefully by all countries concerned, in accordance with international law," he said.
In the meeting, in which eight members outside the ASEAN region participated, Singh said terrorism represents a major threat to the peace, stability and security of the entire region.
"India has been urging that the global regime against terrorism needs to be strengthened through the early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the UN," he said.
To deal with terror groups which operate across borders and have acquired global reach, Singh said, "We must combine efforts to ensure that terrorist sanctuaries, safe havens and the networks for financing to terrorist groups are dismantled."
On the Afghanistan issue, he said the main threat to peace and stability in Afghanistan emanate from terrorism and "it is imperative that terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens, particularly those beyond Afghan borders, are dismantled".
Singh said the international community must redouble efforts to assist Afghanistan in becoming a stable, democratic and pluralistic state.
"India supports the efforts of the Afghan government to establish a peaceful dialogue with all armed opposition groups. The reconciliation process must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled, within the framework of the Afghan constitution and internationally accepted redlines," he said.
The recent attack on the Indian Consulate in Jalalabad "will not deter us in our efforts to assist Afghanistan in the reconstruction and development efforts".
On the "deteriorating situation in Syria", Singh said it is a matter of continuing concern to the international community and India has supported calls for stopping of violence and commencement of an inclusive national dialogue to resolve the conflict through peaceful political means.
On recent reports regarding use of chemical weapons outside Damascus, Singh said if they are confirmed by the UN investigation team, "it would be a matter of grave concern".
"The international legal norm against the use of chemical weapons must not be breached. India has consistently supported the complete destruction and elimination of chemical weapon worldwide and for strict measures to prevent their access to non-state actors and terrorist groups," he said.
Expressing deep concern over the nuclear tests conducted by North Korea in February, he said, "We support the objective of denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and the resumption of talks among the relevant parties."