India offers help to S'pore in Malacca Straits
Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said New Delhi would be willing to help to secure the busy Malacca Straits.india Updated: Jun 04, 2006 12:12 IST
India has offered to help secure the busy Malacca Straits against high-seas pirates, a report said on Sunday.
Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said New Delhi would be willing to help in any capacity that the littoral states deem necessary.
"India has developed capabilities in various aspects of maritime security and would be most willing to share its expertise with the countries of the region," he said in his address at the 5th Shangri-La Dialogue on Saturday.
The number of pirate attacks in the Malacca Straits has dropped sharply in recent months, but India, aware that 50 per cent of its trade passes through the waterway, remains wary.
According to figures from the International Maritime bureau, there were no pirate attacks anywhere in the Malacca Strait between January and March this year and only one incident between July and December last year.
In contrast, 38 attacks were recorded in 2004, prompting Lloyd's of London to list the strait as a "war-risk area" and hiking insurance premiums for shippers using the waterway.
Singapore Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean said he welcomed the offer but it would have to be accepted by the littoral states.
"They must be respectful of international law as well as the sovereignty of the littoral states," he said.
Malaysia and Indonesia have been reluctant to accept significant foreign involvement in strait security.
The three-day Shangri-La Dialogue -- named after the Singapore hotel where it is held -- brings together delegates from 22 countries, including the US, Britain, Canada, France, Japan, China and India.
This year's Shangri-La meeting was the fifth since the dialogue was set up in 2002.