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NEW DELHI: India supports a multipolar world order, underpinned by international law and premised upon respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Wednesday.

Addressing the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), a grouping advanced by Kazakhstan in 1992 for enhancing cooperation in Asia, Shringla also urged the resolution of international disputes through peaceful negotiations and free access of the global commons for all. The foreign secretary's comments come amid growing global concerns over China's increasing military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere. Like India, China is also one of the members of CICA.

In his speech, the foreign secretary said that the UN Security Council should be more representative to build trust and confidence among developing countries in the UN body’s ability to provide leadership to the world.

“India’s clarion call for a reformed multilateralism, which reflects appreciation of contemporary geopolitical realities, is a pressing need now more than ever before. Multilateral institutions must be made more accountable to their membership, they must be open and welcoming to a diversity of viewpoints and cognisant of new voices, especially those from Asia," Shringla said.

“India values a multipolar international order, underpinned by international law, premised upon respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, resolution of international disputes through peaceful negotiations, and free and open access for all to the global commons," he said.

Shringla identified terrorism, radicalisation, drug trafficking and organised crime as the key challenges facing Asia and stressed "concerted action" to deal with these issues.

“India’s vision of the Indo-Pacific as a free, open and inclusive region underpinned by international law is premised on the common pursuit of progress and prosperity. In this direction, India has traditionally maintained close and friendly cooperation with regional organizations in Asia, including CICA," he said.

Referring to the covid-19 pandemic, Shringla said it had brought about unprecedented global challenges, exposing vulnerabilities and underscoring interdependence in Asia and across the world.

"This spirit of mutual support among countries in Asia, with its huge population, vast market and inherent vibrancy, can be an asset to help us rebound from the adverse medical, economic and social consequences that the pandemic has left in its wake," Shringla said.

The pandemic had exposed the fault lines from the vulnerability of global supply chains to inequitable vaccine distribution, he said adding that it has also brought to focus the need for global solidarity and strengthened multilateralism.

"The re-imagined post-pandemic world will make profoundly different demands from the multilateral system, which must evolve so as to be fit for purpose and capable of inspiring confidence in its ability to effectively meet those demands," Shringla said. In this context, CICA could be an important vehicle for advancing peace, progress and prosperity in Asia, in consonance with the growing role of the continent in international relations, he added.


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