The joint statement was issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Cambodian PM Samdech Hun Sen, one of the longest elected leaders in the world, in power since 1985.
PM Modi with Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen in New Delhi on Saturday. (Express photo by Amit Mehra)
Cambodia on Saturday signed a joint statement with India, where it mentioned “safety and security in the Indo-Pacific region”, and supported “complete freedom of navigation and overflight” and “peaceful resolution” of maritime issues based on international law. Cambodia is one of China’s closest allies among the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The development assumes significance not just because this was issued in a joint statement in Delhi, but also because Cambodia blocked any reference to the international court’s ruling against Beijing on South China Sea in July 2016 at the ASEAN summit. That had led to the situation where the Southeast Asian nations had failed to agree on a joint statement criticising China on South China Sea.
The joint statement was issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Cambodian PM Samdech Hun Sen, one of the longest elected leaders in the world, in power since 1985. The Cambodian leader was accorded a state visit, a day after he took part in the Republic Day celebrations along with nine ASEAN leaders.
According to the joint statement, both sides expressed a keen interest in enhancing cooperation in maritime domain, including sustainable marine development and protection and preservation of marine and coastal environment, anti-piracy cooperation, “security of sea lanes of communication to maintain peace and ensure safety and security of navigation in the Indo-Pacific Region”.
“They also agreed that peace and maritime security is important for both countries. To that end, they support complete freedom of navigation and overflight and pacific resolution of maritime issues based on international law, notably the1982 UNCLOS,” it said, underlining the concerns shared by India and many other countries in the region and beyond.
Modi and Hun Sen also agreed to “further enhance defence ties, including through exchanges of senior level defence personnel, capacity building projects”, the statement said. It said the two sides expressed satisfaction at the current state of bilateral defence ties, including ship visits and training programmes.
The two sides also called for concerted global efforts to eliminate terrorism, including blocking sources of terror financing and dismantling terrorist bases.
In a strong statement, without mentioning Pakistan, the two leaders also emphasised the responsibility of all states to prevent financing of terrorist networks and terrorist acts from their territories, and agreed that terrorism cannot be used as an instrument of state policy.
After the talks between the Prime Ministers, the two countries signed four pacts, including one to improve cooperation in the prevention and investigation of crimes and legal assistance in criminal matters, besides a line of credit from India to finance Cambodia’s Stung Sva Hab water resources development project for $36.92 million