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Indo-Pacific region has huge potential: Sarna

Washington: Underlining that the fulcrum of economic and political activity is moving from the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific, Indias envoy to the US Navtej Singh Sarna today said the region has a huge potential to insure peace and prosperity for all.

"It (Indo-Pacific region) has a huge importance, not only in India but for the world because as you see the fulcrum of economic and political activity, is moving to from the Atlantic to this part of the world,? Sarna told a Washington audience.

"Whether it is the percentage of oil that goes through this area, percentage of container traffic that goes through this area, or the challenges being faced from piracy, whether you see the immense potential of doing something, the new economy is virtually untouched in terms of exploration and development, Sarna said.

He was speaking at the launch of the Indo-Pacific Infrastructure Trilateral Forum, organised by the US Chamber of Commerces US-India Business Council and the US Japan Business Council. "There is a huge potential for peace and prosperity for everybody. And I think, India certainly sees it from that perspective. We see this as an area in which its important to have an intrusive approach; an approach which is rules based, the Indian Ambassador said.

The day-long event was sponsored by Mahindra and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Referring to Indias long-standing relationship with ASEAN, the Indian diplomat said the neutrality of ASEAN has to be "appreciated, maintained and also utilised.

India has been an economic partner of ASEAN for 15 years now, he noted. The connectivity both physical and digital is immense, he said, adding that India has been building highway and other physical infrastructure projects in the region like Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar.

"Connectivity, keeping the sea lanes open, and creating digital connectivity in terms of highways like phones and most norms -- development of digital norms for the Indio-Pacific region, which answers to the goal of cybersecurity. I think these very important projects which remains to be done, he said.

Responding to a question, Sarna said, "It is very important to see that Indo-Pacific as something which needs to be addressed on its own rather than making it a reaction to the position of country A, B or C." "It is very important to see the potential of the Indo-Pacific on its own need. Because if you make it simply as a response, you get the astute sports. I think its important to develop that, Sarna said.

The development in the Indo-Pacific region, he stressed, has to be inclusive, and according to international norms. Explaining international norms, Sarna said if a project like port is being in a particular country then surely that port must answer to international project financing norms. It should be something that should not take away the sovereignty of that particular country. "It is something which should be demand driven, Sarna said. 

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