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Statement by H.E. Mr. Anand Sharma
Minister of State for External Affairs of India

Your Excellency Marat Tazhin,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to thank our hosts Kazakhstan for their warm hospitality and excellent arrangements. I would also like to (join my colleagues in extending) a warm welcome to the Ministers of the Kingdom of Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. India has age old civilizational and historical links with these countries, which in the contemporary context are manifested in strong mutually cooperative and beneficial relations.

Mr. Chairman, India is proud to be associated with the CICA process since its inception. It is a matter of satisfaction to us that CICA has emerged as an important forum for dialogue in Asia, offering member states an opportunity to exchange views on a broad range of issues impacting on security and stability in our region. By bringing together countries from various parts of Asia, CICA has successfully laid down a framework that will take us closer to realizing our shared vision of peace and prosperity in our region.

 CICA member states are no strangers to each other. As heirs to a rich heritage, we share common strands in our history and culture which, to this day, plays the role of a binding force. It is, therefore, a matter of great personal satisfaction to me to be here today in Almaty, a city closely associated with the legend of the Silk Route, which was a meeting place of different cultures through many centuries.
 Mr. Chairman, the two decades since the end of the Cold War marks a period of significant change, of new opportunities and new challenges. There is no doubt that fundamental shifts are underway in the global distribution of economic and political power. The complexities of the present day demand an orderly transformation and recasting of the world order so that it reflects the realities and the urges of our age, in which globalization is moving ahead. The discourse on globalization, the setting of the international agenda has to be a cooperative global effort in which Asia has to play a prominent part to ensure that the world order is inclusive, just and equitable.

 Our meeting today offers us an opportunity to take stock of where we are and the road ahead. The emergence of complex, transnational threats and security challenges, whose influence and potential impact is global, not only regional or local, is necessitating the crafting of security responses that go beyond traditional solutions. Some of these issues were previously viewed as law and order problems, viz. drug smuggling and illegal immigration; or, required intervention by frontline agencies dealing with pandemics and sea piracy.   There is also today a better understanding of the impact of climate change on the earth's biodiversity and the cross-sectoral stresses it is causing, particularly in the less developed countries where adaptive capacities remain limited. Taken together with the persistence of terrorism and onward proliferation of nuclear weapons related technologies, the security challenges we face reinforces the need for comprehensive approaches and obliges cooperation and collaboration among states. We believe that CICA has a role to play in devising collaborative strategies that help deepen cooperation among member states.

 Mr. Chairman, of all the threats we in Asia face today, none is as dangerous as that of terrorism. Many Member countries in the CICA process are victims of terrorism. Thus there is common need to combat extremism and terrorism. In our view, no goal or grievance can justify terrorism. CICA had recognized the need to eliminate this scourge early and in 2002 adopted a "Declaration on Eliminating Terrorism and Promoting Dialogue Among Civilizations". We hope the forum will be able to take firm steps in this direction.

 India will continue to actively participate in the CICA. We have contributed in the drafting of the basic documents of CICA, an exercise which for us showcases the uniqueness of the CICA process, whose ultimate goal is to create a pan Asian dialogue on cooperation mechanism on security issues. We believe that we need to concentrate on simple and uncomplicated issues for cooperation and focus on CBMs that are practical and achievable and at a pace comfortable to all. The Catalogue of Confidence Building Measures elaborates a broad framework of CBMs in the economic, social and humanitarian dimension. We appreciate the progress made on these issues and the experts level meetings hosted by meetings in Turkey and Iran on New Threats and Challenges and cooperation on combating illicit drugs. We have also noted the circulation of draft concept papers by Azerbaijan and Republic of Korea in the areas of Secure and Effective Systems of Transportation Corridors and on Energy Security. We look forward to contributing in realising these concepts. We will also carefully study Russia and Tajikistan's draft concept papers on Development of Small and Medium Enterprises and Tourism respectively.

Mr. Chairman, India believes that CICA can help contribute to the development of a cooperative and pluralistic security order in Asia, based on mutual understanding, trust and sovereign equality. We need to be mindful of the diversity and the heterogeneity that pervades through our social, economic, political and cultural systems. It is this distinctive panorama which requires that we pay heed to our unique Asian framework. We believe that replication of models, which have perhaps been successful elsewhere, may not necessarily be suitable for us. India has, therefore, consistently emphasized that CICA has to evolve its own approach, rooted in the realities of Asia. In CICA, we have recognized this diversity and the consequent need, therefore, to move ahead gradually, building upon the basis of consensus and voluntary participation. We have pledged to work together to build a cooperative architecture by enlarging the areas of common advantage and convergence.   I would like to reiterate that our focus should be on what unites us and set aside areas of divergence.

 Mr. Chairman, it is only by evolving certain reliable ground rules, that CICA can more effectively promote peace and security in Asia and help reconcile the diverse concerns and interests of its member states. Deeper and broader Asian cooperation, with an emphasis on dialogue, holds the key to unleashing the full potential of Asia for peace and development both in our own continent and around the world.
 Before I end, I am pleased to announce that New Delhi will host the next round of CICA SWG/SOC (Special Working Group/Senior Officials Committee) meetings on February 18-20, 2009. We would look forward to welcome delegates from all CICA Member States for these meetings.

Thank you.