India's principle of "strategic autonomy" remains strong, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, drawing an equivalence in ties with Russian Federation, the USA and China and cautioning against a "return to the age of great power rivalries", at a conference in Singapore on Friday.
During his three-day visit to Singapore, Modi held wide-ranging talks with his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong and delivered a keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue - Asia's premier defence and strategic affairs conference. "By no means do we consider it as directed against". A geographical definition, as such, can not be.
Prime Minister Modi also said, "The Indian Ocean has shaped much of India's history".
Modi's comments come a little more than a month after he held an informal summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan to fix ties badly strained by the military stand-off on Bhutan's Doklam plateau. It also comes days ahead of the US, India and Japan beginning military exercises in the Western Pacific off the coast of Guam. In the past year, India has increased its engagement with the ASEAN region, joined a quadrilateral grouping with the U.S., Japan and Australia for the Indo-Pacific, as well as reached out to China and Russian Federation and will join the SCO grouping this month.
Modi hailed India's strengthening ties with China, the United States and the Association of South East Asian Nations.
Modi, who met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in April, again reached out to the country for greater cooperation.More news: United States set to veto UN resolution on protecting Palestinians
"I think the way forward is to work together to beef up our artificial intelligence and defence systems", she said in a statement tonight.
Meanwhile, Modi said the task force would, among others, be responsible to come up with areas in which both countries could work together and chalk out programmes with set targets and deadlines.
In his keynote address at the Dialogue, Modi had said an "Asia of rivalry" will hold the region back while an Asia of cooperation will shape the current century.
"We should all have equal access and the right under worldwide law to the use of common spaces on the sea and in the air that will require freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with global law".
Speaking on connectivity in the region, Modi said if the many projects identified for the region are to succeed, "we must not only build infrastructure, we must also build bridges of trust".