Manila: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called for intensifying regional cooperation to deal efficiently with terrorism and pitched for a rules-based security architecture for the resource-rich region, seen as a veiled reference to China's expansionist posturing in the Indo- Pacific.
In an address at the ASEAN-India summit here, Modi identified terrorism and extremism as the significant challenge facing the region and said time has come for the countries of the region to join hands to deal with it collectively.
"We have individually strived very hard to fight terrorism and violent extremism. It is the time that we jointly address this challenge by intensifying cooperation in this crucial area," he said.
The 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region and India and several other countries including the US, China, Japan and Australia are its dialogue partners.
In an apparent reference to the South China Sea (SCS) dispute which has cast a shadow over the summit talks, Modi said India would continue its support to the ASEAN for establishing a rules-based security architecture in the region.
"India assures the ASEAN of its steady support towards achieving a rules-based regional security architecture that best attests to the region s interests and its peaceful development," he said.
China's aggressive military build up in the SCS was one of the focus areas of the deliberations at the ASEAN summit.
China claims sovereignty over all of the SCS, a considerable source of hydrocarbons. However, several ASEAN member countries including Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei have counterclaims.
India has been supporting freedom of navigation and access to resources in the SCS by principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Prime Minister Modi also talked about shared values, and common destiny between India and ASEAN, adding 1.25 billion people in India were eagerly waiting to receive leaders of the ASEAN at the Republic Day celebrations in January next year.