India called for freedom of navigation on Thursday, saying the sea lanes of communication should be devoid of tension and rivalry.
“India does not see itself as in competition with any country in this regard,” said President Pranab Mukherjee, who is on a maiden two-day state visit to Papua New Guinea, the largest island in the Pacific region.
He also said that India was not in competition with anyone over signing a security cooperation with Papua New Guinea.
All sea lanes of communications should be free of tension and rivalry, Mukherjee said in an interview to the ‘Post Courier’ newspaper here.
He was replying to a question about the future of security cooperation between the Pacific island and India against the backdrop of Chinese military presence in the region.
The waters and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of Pacific Island countries have seen a surge of illegal activities such as smuggling, illegal fishing, human trafficking, drug trafficking, which impact the economy and political security of the Pacific Island countries, the President said.
“We are ready to cooperate with Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Island Countries in helping them secure their EEZs and in disaster warning and disaster mitigation. We are ready to share satellite images developed by Indian satellites for early warning system and to help map natural resources of each country using our satellite system,” Mukherjee said.
“Maritime security, terrorism and piracy are major concerns to the whole world today and also for India and Papua New Guinea,” he said.
During the FIPIC-2 (Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation) Summit in Jaipur, India offered a Coastal Surveillance Radar System to the Pacific Island countries, including Papua New Guinea. It has also offered to provide Coast Guard vessels, he said.
The President, who arrived here this morning and was accorded a ceremonial reception that included a 21 gun salute, said the underlying narrative of India’s engagement with the developing world is “non-exploitative and developmental”.
“Having endured colonial exploitation, India is acutely conscious of the fact that bilateral relationships have to be based on mutual benefit. India, therefore, believes in capacity building and assistance based on priorities determined by the recipient country,” he said.
Mukherjee invoked “Vasudeva Kutumbakam” (The whole world is one family) as the guiding principle of India’s diplomacy.
“We have an ancient saying ‘Vasudeva Kutumbakam’... This is the philosophy that permeates our relations with all foreign countries,” he said.