Bangkok, Jun 6: Against the backdrop of growing Chinese assertion in the Asia-Pacific region, India today said it supports the “freedom of navigation” in international waters noting that any disputes or differences in the region must be resolved diplomatically.
Defence Minister A K Antony, who is here on a day-long visit, held wide ranging talks with his Thai counterpart Air Chief Marshal Sukhumpol Suwanatat, calling for cooperation in several areas including keeping open sea lanes and measures to tackle piracy.
He also offered to cooperate with Thailand in the field of defence production. Thailand praised India's indigenously developed defence capabilities.
Antony said both India and Thailand had large stakes in the maintenance of peace and stability in its immediate neighbourhood and in the wider Asia Pacific region.
“Our trade is dependent on the sea lanes. Hence, security of the sea lanes and freedom of navigation is critical to our economic and overall security. India supports the freedom of navigation in accordance with the principles of international law,” he said in his talks with Suwanatat.
Noting that peace and stability was in the interest of all countries in the region, Antony said, “We support resolution of differences and disputes through the process of dialogue and consensus between the parties to such disputes.” “All countries must exercise restraint and resolve issues diplomatically, according to the principles of international law,” he said.
Antony's comments came amidst flexing of muscles by China in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. China has in the recent past used its naval ships and aircraft to intimidate neighbouring countries including Japan which are in dispute with Beijing over maritime rights. China has also increased presence of its maritime forces, including submarines and warships, in the Indian Ocean Region.