A free Indo-Pacific starts at the East Asia Summit, says Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar

During his speech at the 17th East Asia Summit (EAS) on Sunday, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar highlighted global concerns regarding food and energy security and stressed the importance of the EAS mechanism in promoting a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific with freedom of navigation and overflight. Several world powers, including the United States, India, and Japan, have been discussing how to ensure a free, open, and vibrant Indo-Pacific region in the context of China’s increasing military presence in the area.

Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of the disputed South China Sea, although China claims nearly all of it. The Chinese government has constructed artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea. The East China Sea is also the subject of territorial disputes between China and Japan.

Among the Quad grouping of India, Australia, Japan, and the United States, we strongly oppose any unilateral action that aims to change the status quo or escalate tensions in the Indo-Pacific region.

On the sidelines of the summit, Dhankhar, who is in Cambodia for a three-day visit, briefly interacted with US President Joe Biden.

After speaking at the EAS summit, the Vice President inaugurated the completed conservation work on the ‘Hall of Dancers’ at Ta Prohm Temple within the Angkor archaeological complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia. During his visit to the temple, he was accompanied by Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar. At the inauguration, Dhankhar said, “We are not in the country of our extended neighbourhood; we are in the country of our extended family.”.

The Hall of Dancers is part of a four-million-dollar joint project between India and Cambodia to preserve and restore Cambodian cultural heritage.

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