Bangkok: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday proposed a new initiative to create a safe and secure maritime domain in the Indo-Pacific, indicating India's readiness to play a bigger role in the region where China has been expanding its military assertiveness.
Modi floated the idea of the Indo-Pacific Ocean's initiative during his address at the 14th East Asia Summit, a premier forum in the Asia-Pacific region dealing with issues relating security and defence.
Apart from the 10 ASEAN member states, East Asia Summit includes India, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Russia. The ASEAN's current chair Thailand and Australia welcomed Modi's proposal.
"The Prime Minister proposed an Indo-Pacific Ocean's initiative to conserve and sustainably use the maritime domain and to make meaningful efforts to create a safe and secure maritime domain," said Vijay Thakur Singh, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs.
"Focus areas of this initiative include creating partnerships among the interested states in several pillars, ranging from enhancing maritime security to preserving and sustainably using marine resources, building capacities as well as working together in trade and maritime transport," she said.
Singh said Australia has already indicated its interest in working with India to develop the initiative. In his address, the prime minister also proposed an EAS seminar on maritime security in Chennai next year.
India has consistently been indicating that it was keen on playing a larger role in the Indo-Pacific region. The US has also been pushing for a greater role for India in the Indo-Pacific in an effort to contain China's growing clout in the region.
In November last year, India, the US, Australia and Japan gave shape to the long-pending Quad Coalition to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.
Reflecting growing congruence of interests in the region, senior officials of the Quad' countries also held consultations on Monday on the situation in Indo-Pacific and supported an ASEAN-led mechanisms for the regional architecture for the region.