India has a difficult neighbourhood: Modi

Kochi, Dec 15 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said India has a “difficult neighbourhood”, and that several countries have reached out to India to deal with the rising threat of terror and radicalisation across regions “including the Islamic world”.

Addressing top commanders of the country’s three armed forces at the Combined Commanders’ Conference onboard INS Vikramaditya, the prime minister said India is seen as a “new bright spot” of world economy, and also as “an anchor for regional and global peace, security and stability”.

Modi emphasised on India’s attempt to establish good relations with its neighbours, including Paksitan.

“And, as the world seeks to deal with the rising threat of terrorism and radicalism, countries across all regions, including in the Islamic world, have reached out to seek cooperation with India,” Modi said.

“Above all, it is our neighbourhood that is most critical for our future and for our place in the world. But ours is a difficult neighbourhood with the full spectrum of security challenges,” he said at the conference attended by the three service chiefs, the defence secretary and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

Modi also expressed concern over the instability in West Asia.

“We see terrorism and ceasefire violations, reckless nuclear build up and threats, border transgressions and, continuing military modernisation and expansion.

“The shadow of West Asian instability is becoming longer,” he said.

The prime minister said “our region” is marked by uncertain political transitions, weak institutions and internal conflicts and, “major powers” have increased their engagement in India’s land and maritime neighbourhood.

On Pakistan, Modi said India was trying to “turn the course of history” and “bring an end to terrorism”.

“We are engaging Pakistan to try and turn the course of history, bring an end to terrorism, build peaceful relations, advance cooperation and promote stability and prosperity in our region.

“There are many challenges and barriers on the path. But the effort is worth it, because the peace dividends are huge and the future of our children is at stake,” the prime minister said.

“So, we will test their intentions to define the path ahead. For this, we have started a new NSA-level dialogue to bring security experts face to face with each other. But, we will never drop our guard on security and we will continue to judge progress on their commitments on terrorism,” he said.

Modi also mentioned China and said India was pursuing “closer relations” to harness the full potential of economic partnership.

“We will aim to address outstanding issues, maintain stability on the border, and develop greater mutual understanding and trust in our overlapping neighbourhood.

“I believe that India and China can engage constructively across the complexity of their relationship as two self-assured and confident nations, aware of their interests and responsibilities,” he said.

“From Maldives and Sri Lanka in the seas, to Nepal and Bhutan in the mountains, we are working to safeguard our interests and our relationships,” Modi said.

The land boundary agreement with Bangladesh has strengthened relations, and India was also committed to peace in Afghanistan, he added.

This was the first time the Combined Commanders Conference was held onboard an aircraft carrier.

Modi inspected a Tri-services Guard of Honour in the morning at INS Garuda in Kochi, before arriving onboard INS Vikramaditya, where he was received by the three service chiefs.

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