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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday strongly pitched for setting up of a rules-based regional security architecture in the Indo-Pacific region, in a clear display of convergence of strategic interests among major powers and India, and sending a subtle message to China against its military assertiveness in the area. In his address at the ASEAN-India and East Asia summits, Prime Minister Modi also identified terrorism and extremism, including cross-border terrorism, as the major challenge facing the region and said time has come for all the countries to join hands to collectively deal with it. Modi later returned to India. The prime minister talked about the need for a united approach to contain terrorism and radicalisation in the region, asserted India’s long-held position on freedom of navigation and over-flight in the Indo-Pacific, called for an irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and sought a detailed probe into North Korea's nuclear proliferation linkages. "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," Modi told leaders of 10 South East Asian countries. His comment is seen as India's readiness in playing a major role in the broader regional security framework along with the US, Japan, Australia, which are giving shape to a quadrilateral security coalition, amid growing concerns among the ASEAN and other players over China’s military maneuvering in the Indo-Pacific. On the threats faced by the region by terrorism, including cross-border terrorism, Modi said time has come for all the countries to join hands to collectively deal with it. "We have individually strived very hard to fight terrorism and violent extremism. It is time that we jointly address this challenge by intensifying cooperation in this crucial area." Reflecting its seriousness on terror, the East Asia Summit, a grouping of 10 ASEAN nations and nine other major countries including the US, India, Russia, China and Japan, issued separate declarations on anti-money laundering and countering terror financing as well as on combating ideological challenges of terrorist narratives.
The countries of grouping, in the declarations, expressed strong resolve to work unitedly to deal with the challenge of terror networks.Secretary East in the External Affairs Ministry, Preeti Saran, said at the EAS, Modi stressed on safe and secure navigation in the Indo-Pacific region and called for adherence to rule of law and international obligation including respect for UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), in clear reference to China’s aggression in South China Sea. "He (the PM) also called for the complete verification and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. He also pointed out that North Korea’s proliferation links must be investigated and to hold into account the parties who have supported these unlawful programmes," said Saran. "The prime minister reiterated India's commitment to RCEP and the need for a balanced outcome," Saran told reporters. The meeting of the RCEP leaders took place here on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit.