October 10, 2013
Brunei Darussalam

PM's statement at the 8th East Asia Summit in Brunei Darussalam

"I join other speakers in thanking His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah for the excellent arrangements made for the 8th East Asia Summit and the warm welcome we have received in his beautiful country.

We gather in Brunei when the need for collective action, cooperation and collaboration in the Asia Pacific region has never been felt more acutely. Global economic uncertainty and political turmoil in other parts of the world have impacted countries in our region equally. In addition, this vast region faces challenges arising not only from its diversity, but also from differences. Clearly, the potential of unprecedented prosperity for our peoples can be realized only by inculcating a cooperative temper. The East Asia Summit is a forum that is, in my view, ideally placed to help us realize our common goals for advancing security and prosperity in a cooperative framework.

In terms of priorities, the implementation of the 6th East Asia Summit Declaration on ASEAN Connectivity requires a sense of greater urgency. Building of physical infrastructure needs to go hand-in-hand with creation of soft infrastructure along the connectivity corridors. India welcomes dialogue and cooperation with like-minded countries on innovative means of financing these infrastructure requirements. We welcome Brunei Darussalam’s initiative to hold a meeting between the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee and the East Asia Summit later this year.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, launched in Phnom Penh last year, has given us a roadmap for regional economic integration that can reinforce growth and accelerate development across the region, besides enhancing mutual stakes in regional stability and security. India remains fully engaged in and committed to the RCEP process.

We must supplement this effort with cooperation on the challenges of energy, food, health and human resource development. We, therefore, welcome the adoption of the Declaration of the 8th East Asia Summit on Food Security. We support Australia and Vietnam as co-Chairs of the launch of the Asia-Pacific Leaders’ Malaria Alliance. We are happy to co-chair with Australia the Task Force on Access to Quality Medicines to combat malaria. We have also proposed a new initiative for cooperation among East Asia Summit members in trauma care and nursing.

I would like to thank the East Asia Summit participating countries for their support for the establishment of Nalanda University as an international institution of excellence. I am happy that the process of signing the inter-governmental Memorandum of Understanding on the Nalanda University has begun. Academic sessions at the University are set to begin next year. I hope students and faculty from all EAS countries will participate in this exciting venture.

A stable maritime environment is essential to realize our collective regional aspirations. We should reaffirm the principles of maritime security, including the right of passage and unimpeded commerce, in accordance with international law, and peaceful settlement of maritime disputes. We welcome the collective commitment by the concerned countries to abide by and implement the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and to work towards the adoption of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea on the basis of consensus. We also welcome the establishment of the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum for developing maritime norms that would reinforce existing international law relating to maritime security.

Cooperative mechanisms in disaster management would not only fulfil a humanitarian need, but also foster broader confidence and cooperation in the region. India has initiated the process of establishing a Virtual Knowledge Centre as well as a network of round-the-clock Points of Contact among EAS countries. We hope to strengthen these initiatives further with your support. We should also strengthen efforts to counter threats of piracy, international terrorism, transnational crimes and drug trafficking.

Your Majesty, Excellencies, Asia has been a late starter in terms of building regional architectures of cooperation. We have embarked on this collective journey in large part because of the outstanding vision and leadership of ASEAN, first in pursuing ASEAN integration and then expanding it to the wider region. We will be successful if we adhere to the principles of unity, cooperation and integration that have guided ASEAN and if ASEAN centrality continues to shape the East Asia Summit processes. I reaffirm India`s commitment to contribute to this process."