HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

India backs freedom of navigation, access to resources in South China sea

PTI  Nay Pyi Taw, August 10, 2014
First Published: 16:09 IST(10/8/2014) | Last Updated: 16:14 IST(10/8/2014)

Amid tensions over territorial claims in the South China Sea overshadowing the ASEAN and East Asia Summit, India on Sunday said it supports freedom of navigation and access to resources in the area and that the dispute must be resolved as per international law.

In her address at the 4th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting at Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said maritime territorial disputes have the potential for undermining comprehensive security and mutual confidence.

"India opposes the use or threat of use of force and supports freedom of navigation and access to resources in accordance with principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

"We hope that progress will be made with respect to implementation of Guidelines to the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the adoption of a Code of Conduct on the basis of consensus," she said.

State-run ONGC Videsh Limited has operation in number of oil blocks in South China Sea which were offered to it by Vietnam.

China has been objecting to India's oil exploration projects in the disputed waters.

China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, which lies on key shipping routes and is believed to be rich in mineral and oil. But its claims clashes with ASEAN states Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as Taiwan.

On the Korean issue, Swaraj said, "India continues to be seriously concerned about the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the proliferation of WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) in the region."  

Talking about Thailand, she said as a friendly neighbour of Thailand, India supports ongoing dialogue and the restoration of the democratic process in that country.

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