Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come up with an Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative aimed at conserving and sustainably using the maritime domain and making meaningful efforts to create a safe, secure, and stable maritime domain.
The proposal was made on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit, as officials of the quadrilateral grouping consisting of India, Australia, the USA and Japan met.
Addressing the press following the meeting, India's Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (East) Vijay Thakur Singh, said focus areas will include creating partnerships among interested countries in several realms, ranging from "enhancing maritime security to preserving and sustainably using marine resources, building capacity, disaster prevention and management, as well as working together in trade, and maritime transport".
"The officials reaffirmed their commitment towards a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific Region based on shared values and principles and respect for international law", the official said.
The Indian prime minister has also proposed an East Asia Summit seminar on maritime security in Chennai in 2020.
The ministry's official said that leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen EAS and adopted three statements, including on creating a partnership for sustainability, combating the spread of illicit drugs and cooperation to combat transnational crimes.
Earlier, the US State Department released a progress report on the implementation of the whole government strategy for the Indo-Pacific region and said its strategic partnership with India is "reaching new heights". India plays a critical role in the future of the Indo-Pacific region, the report said.
On Monday, India decided to stay out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), saying that the proposed mega trade deal did not fully reflect "the basic spirit and the agreed guiding principles of the agreement."
India is taking a tough stand because imports from China are likely to flood Indian markets, resulting in increased competition for domestic manufacturers.
The RCEP negotiators hope to sign the deal in 2020 with the new tariff regime kicking in from 2022. The 16 countries involved account for half the world's population and 32.2 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product, equivalent to $22.6 trillion.
The RCEP comprises the 10-nation Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc and Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan and China.