India favours multilateral coop against Somali pirates

New Delhi: The government has favoured "multilateral cooperation" against Somali pirates under a UN framework to safeguard maritime traffic in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the Gulf of Aden.

Pointing out that that IOR is "central" to India`s maritime interests and concerns, the Defence Ministry in its annual report has said, "The linkages between terrorists based in Somalia and transnational organised crime is a cause of major concern."

"India is in favour of strengthening multilateral cooperation under a UN framework to meet the complex challenges of maritime security… The increased incidence of piracy in the IOR is an issue of serious concern," the report for the year 2010-11, which was released today, said.

Referring to incidents of piracy near the Lakshadweep islands, it said, "The presence of Somali pirates in the waters around our western island territories has been an unwelcome development which require heightened vigil."

Highlighting the role of the Navy in the piracy-hit areas, the Ministry has mentioned, "The Indian Navy has been actively involved in combating maritime piracy in the region on its own and in coordination with the Navies and coalition forces of various countries in the Gulf of Aden."

The Defence Ministry has further stressed that India`s maritime interest involves safeguarding of its coastline, island territories, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and securing the Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC).

"India`s economic development is crucially dependent on sea because of the criticality of sea-borne trade in an increasingly inter-linked world and the potential of vast economic resources of the oceans," it said.

Dwelling on the security scenario in the immediate neighbourhood, the report says the relation with China is of "crucial importance", and India is conscious and watchful of the implications of China`s evolving military profile in the immediate and extended neighbourhood.

"India`s policy is to engage with China on the principles of mutual trust and respect and sensitivity for each other?s concerns," it said.

On the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the report has implicated Pakistan "due to undiminished activities of terrorist organisations from its territory."

"The continued infiltrations across the Line of Control (LoC) and existence of terrorist camps across Indo-Pak border demonstrate the continuing ambivalence of Pakistan in its attitude and approach to terrorist organisations," it said.

The report further said that such terrorist organisation also "pose a danger to Pakistan`s own social and political fabric".

Expressing concerns over political developments in West Asia and North African countries, the Ministry in its report said, "The impact of these developments on the security situation in the region and on the security of energy supplies is of global concern".

India will continue to engage these countries on the basis of mutuality of respect and interests, it added.

On the meeting of Defence Ministers of ASEAN countries, the report said, "ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus forum of ten ASEAN and eight non-ASEAN countries, including India, is an effort to establish an open and inclusive security architecture for the region."

"India`s policy is to encourage and participate in cooperative approaches which would enable all countries in the region to counter traditional and non-traditional security challenges and to ensure that the critical sea lanes in the region are kept open and secure," it said.

On Myanmar, the report says India continues to engage with its eastern neighbour and cooperation in security matters is being enhanced.

"The Government of Myanmar has reciprocated India`s gestures of goodwill and friendship," it said.

On Sri Lanka, the report said that India supports Colombo`s efforts to find a lasting political settlement.

"India stands ready to enhance bilateral cooperation in a range of areas, including defence and security," it said.