Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday conveyed to the Pacific island nations that they can see India as a reliable development partner as it respects their priorities and its approach to cooperation is based on human values. In an address at the FIPIC (Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation) summit, Modi also spoke about the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and other global developments and said those considered "our confidants, it was found that they did not stand by us in the time of need." The prime minister also underlined the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific for the Pacific island nations and said India respects the sovereignty and integrity of all countries.
The prime minister's comments at the summit in the capital city of Papua New Guinea came amid China's aggressive behaviour in the region as well as its efforts to expand its influence in the Pacific island nations. "India respects your priorities. We are proud to be your development partner -- be it humanitarian aid or your development, you can see India as a reliable partner. Our approach is based on human values," Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit the country, said.
In his opening remarks at the summit attended by top leaders of 14 Pacific Island Nations in this capital city of Papua New Guinea, Modi also spoke about the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and other global developments on supplies of food, fuel, fertilizer and pharma products.
"Those whom we considered our confidants, it was found that they did not stand by us in the time of need. In this time of difficulty, the old saying proved true: a friend in need is a friend indeed," Modi said without naming any country. "I am glad that India stood shoulder to shoulder with its Pacific Island friends in this challenging time. Whether it is a vaccine made in India or essential medicines; be it wheat or sugar, India continued to help all fellow countries according to its capabilities," he said.
The prime minister also reaffirmed India's strong support for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. "Like you, we believe in multilateralism; support a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and respect the sovereignty and integrity of all countries," Modi said. The prime minister said India is ready to expand cooperation with the Pacific island nations.
"We are ready to share our abilities and experiences with you without any hesitation -- be it digital technology or space technology, be it health security or food security, be it climate change or environmental protection. We are with you all the way," he said. The prime minister also highlighted India's priorities under its G20 presidency.
"This ocean of yours connects India with you. In Indian ideology, the whole world has been seen as one family. The theme of our G-20 Presidency this year -- 'One Earth, One Family, One Future' -- is also based on this ideology," he said. "In January this year, we organised the Voice of Global South Summit. Your representatives participated in it...India considers it its duty to convey the concerns, expectations and aspirations of the Global South to the world through the G20," he added.
Modi also asserted that the voice of the global south should be a priority for the UN Security Council. "For this, reform of international institutions should be our shared priority," he said. The summit was co-chaired by Prime Minister Modi along with his counterpart from Papua New Guinea James Marape.
India’s engagement with the 14 Pacific Island Countries (PICs) is part of New Delhi's Act East Policy. A major part of India's engagement with PICs is through development assistance under South-South Cooperation which is mainly in the form of capacity building and community development projects.
A major initiative launched under the rubric of the Act East Policy for the PICs is the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC). Prime Minister Modi hosted the first FIPIC summit in Suva on November 19, 2014, during his visit to Fiji. The second FIPIC summit was held in Jaipur on August 21 again with all 14 PICs taking part. At that summit, India announced initiatives across a wide array of areas to assist the PICs in facing challenges and achieving aspirations for the well-being and development of its people.
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