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More interaction with Mideast on cards: Menon
February 16, 2013
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NEW DELHI: India was not “competing with anyone, including Pakistan” and would not act as an “external geopolitical balancer,” National Security Adviser, Shivshankar Menon said on Friday.

Addressing the 15th Asian Security Conference, 2013, on “Emerging Trends in West Asia: Regional and Global Implications,” Menon said that India would work closely with its partners in the region.

“We do not see ourselves as an external geopolitical balancer. We are part of the region, we are not from far away. We will work with our partners across the region,” Menon said.

“We are not competing with anyone including Pakistan,” he added.

However, he said India needs to engage with the Middle East more than ever before as the recent dramatic developments in the region could open up longer term opportunities for the country.

“It seems to me that the turbulence in the region poses short term challenges but also opens up longer term opportunities in terms of our security,” Menon said in a special address to the concluding session of the conference, organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA).

Menon said there was today no region, which impinged on India’s security with as much immediacy as West Asia.

Over 6.5 million Indians lived in the region, the largest concentration of the Indian diaspora abroad.

In several countries they constituted the largest expatriate group.

The diaspora in West Asia remitted home over $35 billion every year.

Menon said the challenges included regional instability, sectarian divide and the space domestic changes in several countries had opened up for extremist groups to pursue their agendas.

“But in the long run, what we are seeing could result in the people of West Asia taking control of their own destinies and choosing their futures and leaders,” he said, adding that India had strongly supported democratic aspirations of the people and opposed “externally enforced change.”

“We are clear that societies cannot be re-ordered from the outside through military force. As recent experience shows, external interventions have uncertain and unstable outcomes.

“We only have to look at the instability radiating out of Libya into the Sahel region and the prolonged conflict in Syria, with spill-over effects in Mali and the wider region.”

Indo-Asian News Service

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