Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday stated that India has never been an aggressor in history but would not hesitate in using its strength to defend itself.
“India has never been an aggressor in its history nor will it ever be. But that does not mean that India would balk at using its strength to defend itself,” said Singh while addressing a special session of ‘Seoul Defence Dialogue’ in South Korea’s capital.
The Union Minister who arrived here on Wednesday with an aim to intensify defence and security ties also outlined that defence diplomacy is “a key pillar of India’s strategic toolkit.”
“In fact, defence diplomacy and maintaining a strong defence force are two sides of the same coin,” he added.
Advocating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘India’s Neighborhood First Policy’– which accords primacy to nations in India’s periphery– the Union Minister noted that a key feature of the approach is also its engagement with its neighbours in sub-regional groupings of Indian-Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), apart from a trilateral maritime cooperation with Sri Lanka and the Maldives to improve Maritime Domain Awareness.
He also gave new mantras to build an open and inclusive architecture in the Indo-Pacific region.
“If we work together on the basis of the five principles that have characterised Indian thought and policies for centuries – the principles of Samman (respect), Samvad (dialogue), Sahayog (cooperation), Shanti (peace) and Samriddhi (prosperity), our success is assured,” the Defence Minister tweeted.
Singh also said that countries working in harmony among each other must provide the right of equal access to the use of common spaces on sea and in the air to all the nations.
“We advocate an open and inclusive architecture for the Indo-Pacific region, with ASEAN centrality and equal access to the global commons,” he added.
Singh further stated that he is being optimistic about the outcome as long as all concerned parties are committed to building peace together.
“I thank the Govt of the Republic of Korea for inviting me to address at the ‘Seoul Defense Dialogue’ which is a prestigious multilateral security dialogue, a forum that offers a sound platform for discussions of the pressing defence and security issues facing the world today,” he said.
Singh noted that India and South Korea have ancient cultural links between each other. Buddhism spread from India to East Asia and was introduced in Korea over 2000 years ago, he said.
The Minister said that the people of the two South Asian countries are linked through family ties that can be traced to the legendary Queen Heo Hwang-ok, who travelled all the way from Ayodhya to marry King Suro of Gaya in present-day Gimhae.
“These linkages form a strong underpinning for our contemporary ties,” he said.
The Defence Minister also laid a wreath at the National Cemetery in Seoul today.
Upon his arrival here yesterday, Singh met South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-Yon and discussed a wide range of issues pertaining to bilateral ties.
The two leaders further noted with appreciation that South Korea’s ‘New Southern Policy’ and India’s ‘Act East Policy’ shared the same perspective and goals. The elevation of bilateral relations to a Special Strategic Partnership in 2015 has heralded a new era in India-Korea relations.
Prime Minister Lee expressed that the South Korean government’s desire for active cooperation with India in diplomatic as well as national security and defence policy arenas.
During yesterday’s meeting between the South Korean Prime Minister and Defence Minister sides also shared the view that the CEOs Forum will serve as a catalyst for greater industry-level cooperation. The two sides conveyed their good wishes to each other for their efforts in the Korean peninsula and Kashmir respectively.
Singh is also expected to hold talks with counterpart Jeong Kyeong-Doo, the Minister of National Defence.
The Defence Minister will also be attending a CEO’s Forum today followed by a Business-to-Government (B2G) meeting with the participation of members of the Defence Industry from both sides with an aim to encourage co-operation between defence Industry of India and the Republic of Korea.
India is developing strong military hardware cooperation with South Korea as the Indian Army has already inducted the K-9 Vajra self-propelled howitzers built in partnership with the Indian firm Larsen and Toubro.