Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday, while indirectly referring to China, said that the ASEAN Defence Ministers need to continue efforts to address threats of bio-terrorism.
"We also need to continue our efforts to address the threats of bio-terrorism, transnational trafficking and pandemic diseases. The support of the military establishments of our respective countries to their civilian law enforcement counterparts is important, Singh said while speaking at the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus).
Singh pointed out that the threats to the rules-based order, maritime security, cyber-related crimes and terrorism, "remain the challenges that we need to address as a forum."
The Defence Minister called the adoption of the concept paper on expanding ASEAN Direct Communication Infrastructure to the Plus countries as a notable step adding that the cybersecurity and military medicine are at the forefront of our challenges today.
He further said that India appreciates the 'central role' of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)-led forums, including ADMM Plus (ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus) amid the current regional environment with visible strains.
"Amid the current regional environment with visible strains, we appreciate the central role of ASEAN-led forums, including ADMM Plus in promoting dialogue and engagement towards a pluralistic, cooperative security order in Asia," Singh added.
Singh said that the collective achievement in the past decade has been remarkable in advancing multilateral cooperation through strategic dialogue and practical security cooperation adding that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world "leaving us many hurdles to overcome."
"The challenge is, therefore, to make sure that the world economy moves on the path of recovery and when it does gather steam, to ensure that the recovery leaves no one behind," he said.
The Defence Minister stated that the pandemic has forced "us all to re-assess our healthcare infrastructure", focus on availability and affordability of vaccines and medicines, development of reliable supply chains, and "highlighted the need for strong collaborations in medical research."
"Since the virus does not respect national boundaries, the response to the pandemic also needs to be collective and collaborative. We are also aware of the efforts of our ASEAN friends in fighting this pandemic," he said.
Singh on Thursday addressed the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) on the occasion of its 10th anniversary.
The ADMM-Plus is a platform for ASEAN and its eight dialogue partners to strengthen security and defence cooperation for peace, stability, and development in the region.