India wants to develop “comprehensive” ties with ASEAN nations but will not get involved in any of their territorial or maritime disputes, Vice President Hamid Ansari has said.
“India has a very clear cut view on Southeast Asia. We want to develop a comprehensive relationship based on satisfaction of each other’s requirement,” he told reporters last night on his way back from a four-day two-nation tour of Cambodia and Laos.
“Requirement is peace, stability and development. If there is no peace and stability, there will be no trade, there will be no investment and there will be no business. Now in that we have a convergence of views,” he said.
Asked that with many Southeast Asian countries embroiled in territorial and maritime disputes, can India emerge as a stabilising force, Ansari, in a lighter vein, said, “We are not in the business of providing stabilisers that has to be done by the ship-building industry.”
Stressing that India has a very good relationship with ASEAN, Ansari said, “It is incumbent on us and we have done it, to have not only good relations with something called ASEAN but good relations with every member of ASEAN.”
He said India was doing this diligently doing and will continue to do it. “Now if they have any problems amongst themselves it is for them to resolve. ASEAN has its own mechanism for resolving problems,” Ansari asserted.
On the issue of terrorism, Ansari said the menace has now become an international phenomenon and can only be countered by international cooperation.
“Can’t say this is a problem of country X which is far away from country Y because we do not know what connections are being established within these groups. International cooperation has become an absolute necessity. It is not a matter of choice that we will cooperate with one and not the other,” Ansari said.
Talking about his visit to Cambodia and Laos during which he held talks with the top leadership of both countries and MoUs were signed for stepping up bilateral economic engagement, Ansari said the “atmospherics” in both countries were very good.
“Visits can be of different kinds but there is a certain atmospherics which count a lot. They remember with gratitude that long time back 60 years ago India here in Lao stood by them and participated in the international commission, in fact the chair was given to India. So they were happy with the way we conducted ourselves on that international mission. Since then bilateral relations have been very good,” he said.
Ansari’s visit to Laos and Cambodia came in the backdrop of India’s pitch to strengthen economic engagement with ASEAN countries. During his visits to both Cambodia and Laos, Ansari has emphasised on the importance India attaches to forging close ties with ASEAN nations in particular with the Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) – countries.
Territorial disputes in Southeast Asia involve both island and maritime claims among several sovereign states within the region.