Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today virtually attended the 10th anniversary of the Founding of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus). In his address, Mr Singh said, cyber security and military medicine are at the forefront of our challenges today. He said, another notable step has been the adoption of the concept paper on expanding ASEAN Direct Communication Infrastructure to the Plus countries.
Mr Singh said, there is also need to continue the efforts to address the threats of bioterrorism, transnational trafficking and pandemic diseases. He said, the support of the military establishments of the respective countries to their civilian law enforcement counterparts is important. The Minister said, our ability, to collectively respond to challenges in the region based on the fundamentals of freedom, inclusivity and openness will define our future. He said, threats to the rules based order, maritime security, cyber related crimes and terrorism, just to name a few, remain the challenges that we need to address as a forum.
Mr Singh said, amongst the new challenges that have emerged, COVID-19 has changed the world and left us many hurdles to overcome. He said, unfortunately the disruptive effect of the pandemic is still unfolding. The Minister said, 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, it 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.
The Minister said, since the virus does not respect national boundaries, the response to the pandemic also needs to be collective and collaborative. He said, we are also aware of the efforts of our ASEAN friends in fighting this pandemic. Mr Singh said, it is our common challenge which requires endeavors at all levels. He said, we appreciate efforts of all the participants and are constantly looking at imbibing the best practices as institutionalized by the members in fighting COVID-19.
The ADMM-Plus is a platform for ASEAN and its eight Dialogue Partners Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States, to strengthen security and defence cooperation for peace, stability, and development in the region.