India, US, Japan call for respecting territorial integrity in a dig at China
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India, US, Japan call for respecting territorial integrity in a dig at China

india Updated: Sep 19, 2017 00:44 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Belt and Road Initiative,external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj,US secretary of state Rex Tillerson

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj with US secretary of state Rex Tillerson and Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono at the Palace Hotel in New York on September 18, 2017.(PTI)

India, Japan and the United States on Monday called for the respect of “international norms” and “sovereignty and territorial integrity” on connectivity initiatives, delivering a thinly veiled joint reminder to China on its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

“On connectivity initiatives, the importance of basing them on universally recognised international norms, prudent financing and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity was underlined,” a statement released by the three countries said.

The remarks came at the end of a trilateral meeting that external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj held with Rex Tillerson and Taro Kono — her US and Japanese counterparts — on the sidelines of the UN general assembly meeting in New York. This was her first meeting with Tillerson.

The three ministers “emphasised the need for ensuring freedom of navigation, respect for international law and peaceful resolution of disputes”, a clear reference to China’s muscle-flexing in the South China Sea and its dispute with littoral states, including Japan.

India has opposed the BRI, a component of which — the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor — traverses Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The government has repeatedly called for respect of territorial integrity and sovereignty, and skipped a recent meeting hosted by China of the project’s various stakeholders.

New Delhi’s concerns on the issue were reflected in letter — word for word — and spirit in the India-US joint statement issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump met in June.

At the New York meet, Swaraj also sought attention on “proliferation linkages” of North Korea, whose recent actions nuclear and missile tests have posed a direct and immediate danger to Japan and the US. She “deplored the DPRK’s recent actions and stated that its proliferation linkages must be explored and those involved be held accountable”, a release by the ministry said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The ministry’s release did not name Pakistan, which supplied North Korea with key equipment for enriching uranium, including gas centrifuges. The father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, AQ Khan, confessed in 2004 to supplying nuclear technology and components to North Korea, Iran and Libya.

First Published: Sep 18, 2017 22:27 IST