Sitharaman, speaking at a meeting of ASEAN defence ministers in Singapore, also said that the presence of terrorist infrastructure and support to terrorists in the “immediate neighbourhood” constantly tested India’s patience and as a responsible power it exercised “great restraint” in dealing with the menace.
“However, India had exhibited measures to disrupt and deter the activities of terrorist groups and their patrons and would not hesitate to do so again if required in future,” she said, according to a statement released by the Defence Ministry in New Delhi.
Sitharaman emphasised India’s concern on the grave challenges to international peace and stability due to the threat of terrorism.
Condemning the use of terror as an instrument to further state policies, she said that the interplay between states and non-state actors used as proxies to foment violence had worsened this menace.
Speaking at the Fifth ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), she reiterated India’s view on the Indo-Pacific, as outlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as an open, balanced region, connected by open and secure seas, integrated by balanced trade and shaped by a rules-based order, and anchored in ASEAN centrality.
She asserted that India was committed to maintaining a sustained focus of its Act East policy in terms of economic, cultural and developmental engagement of the region.
The theme of this year’s dialogue was ‘Strengthening Cooperation, Building Resilience’. The dialogue adopted two resolutions on ‘Countering the Threat of Terrorism’ and ‘Practical Confidence Building Measures’.
Sitharaman lauded the ADMM-Plus mechanism for emerging as a credible and effective platform forging practical cooperation among the members of the armed forces.
She informed the partners of India’s active participation in all the ADMM-Plus mechanism contributing effectively to their success.
India and Myanmar are the co-chairs for the Expert Working Group for Military Medicine for this cycle and a standalone Field Training Exercise on Military Medicine will be held in Lucknow in March 2019 along with the release of ASEAN Military Medicine Handbook, Sitharaman said.
The defence minister emphasised India’s commitment to a rules-based international order that was inclusive and democratic.
She reiterated India’s desire to work both bilaterally with ASEAN member states as well as institutionally and welcomed Thailand’s taking over the chairmanship of the ADMM-Plus.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Sitharaman also held constructive bilateral discussions with the defence ministers of the US, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines, the statement said.
She also attended a meeting with the defence ministers of Russia, China, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.
Sitharaman also held discussions with the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore Teo Chee Hean and her Singaporean counterpart Ng Eng Hen.