Asia-Pacific issues should be settled bilaterally: Antony
New Delhi, June 6 (IANS) All disputes in the Asia-Pacific region should be settled bilaterally under international law, India asserted Wednesday as it emphasized the need to strengthen the multilateral security architecture in the region.
The affirmation came during Defence Minister A.K. Antony's hour-long meeting with the visiting US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, defence ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said.
"With regard to the security concerns in the Asia-Pacific, Antony conveyed that India supports unhindered freedom of navigation in international waters for all. At the same time, with regard to bilateral issues between countries, he stressed that it is desirable that the parties concerned themselves should settle contentious matters in accordance with the international law,: the spokesman said.
"Antony emphasized the need to strengthen the multilateral security architecture in the Asia-Pacific and to move at a pace comfortable to all countries concerned," the spokesman added.
During the talks, "both sides took note of the ongoing bilateral cooperation between India and the US in the area of defence. They agreed that there were opportunities for enhancing bilateral ties in areas of mutual interest and concern," Kar said.
During the discussion on defence trade, Antony "emphasised that the priority for India is to move beyond the buyer-seller transactions and to focus on transfer of technologies and partnerships to build indigenous capabilities", Kar added.
Panetta assured the Indian side that the US government will "initiate measures to facilitate technology access and sharing", the spokesman said. Both sides also exchanged views on the security situation in South Asia, West Asia and the Asia-Pacific and on various global security challenges, including in the area of cyber security.
Panetta was accompanied by a 10-member delegation, including the US ambassador to India Nancy Powell and other senior officers from the US Department of Defence. The Indian delegation included Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma, Secretary (Defence Production) Shekhar Agarwal and Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister V.K. Saraswat.
Earlier, the US defence secretary laid a wreath at the India Gate memorial to the unknown soldier and was accorded a tri-services guard of honour when he arrived at South Block for the meeting.
Panetta, who arrived here Tuesday on a two-day visit, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon soon after.
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