India supports freedom of navigation, says Antony

New Delhi, June 6 (IANS) India supports the freedom of navigation in accordance with the principles of international laws, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Thursday and offered to discuss with Thailand possible areas of cooperation in defence producution.

According to an official release, Antony – who met Thai Defence Minister Air Chief Marshal Sukumpol Suwanatat in Bangkok — said that India has developed a well-established defence industry that can meet varying requirements of Thai armed forces.

Antony said both India and Thailand have a large stake in maintenance of peace and stability in the immediate neighbourhood and in the wider Asia-Pacific region.

He said security of sea lanes and freedom of navigation was critical to economic and overall security and called upon countries to exercise restraint and resolve issues diplomatically according to principles of international law.

“India supports the freedom of navigation in accordance with the principles of international law. Our view is that peace and stability is in the interest of all countries in the region,” he said.

“We support the resolution of differences and disputes through the process of dialogue and consensus between the parties to such disputes. All countries must exercise restraint and resolve issues diplomatically, according to the principles of international law”, Antony added.

He said New Delhi has been of the consistent view that ASEAN was central to any security architecture for the region.

“India is committed to efforts of ADMM Plus (ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting), ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum) and the East Asia Summit for promoting dialogue and consensus building among all countries of the region,” he said.

He said India would welcome the visit of Thai teams to its various defence production facilities.

Antony said conscious planning, hard work by Indian scientists and support by the government is resulting in the growth of a strong defence industrial base in the country.

The release said the talks between the two ministers covered a wide range of issues, including regional security concerns.

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