New Delhi: Greater power and stronger capabilities should lead to responsibility and restraint and result in economics free of coercion and politics devoid of the threat of use of force, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday, spelling out challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.

In an address at the EU Ministerial Forum on Indo-Pacific in Paris, he said the challenges being faced in the region could extend to Europe as “distance is no insulation”.

Jaishankar said the hosting of the forum at a time when Europe has been grappling with a serious crisis (in Ukraine) reflected the importance the European Union attaches to its engagement in the Indo-Pacific region.

“The Indo-Pacific is at the heart of the multipolarity and rebalancing that characterises contemporary changes,” he said in the presence of top leadership of the European Union as well as his counterparts from several countries.

Delving into the importance of the Indo-Pacific, the external affairs minister said it is essential that “greater power and stronger capabilities” lead to “responsibility and restraint.

“This means, above all, respect for international law, territorial integrity and sovereignty. It means economics free of coercion and politics free from the threat of the use of force. It means observing global norms and practices and refraining from making claims on the global commons,” he said.

Though he did not name any country, it appeared to be an apparent reference to China’s increasing muscle-flexing in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Today, we see challenges from that score with the clarity that proximity brings. And believe me, distance is no insulation. The issues we confront in the Indo-Pacific will extend beyond even to Europe. We, therefore, welcome the EU’s commitment to contribute to the security of the region,” Jaishankar said.

“This remains a maritime century and the tides of the Indo-Pacific region will certainly help shape its future,” he added.

Jaishankar arrived in Paris on Sunday on a three-day trip after paying a two-day visit to Germany.

The EU Ministerial Forum on Indo-Pacific was organised by France in its capacity as chair of the council of the European Union.

The evolving situation in the Indo-Pacific region in the wake of China’s increasing military assertiveness has become a major talking point among leading global powers.

In September last year, the European Union unveiled a new strategy to step up its strategic engagement in the Indo-Pacific and contribute to the region’s stability, security and prosperity.

The strategy focused on the EU stepping up the implementation of its connectivity partnerships with India and Japan, supporting partners in establishing a regulatory environment and facilitating the mobilisation of the necessary funding to improve connectivity between Europe and the Indo-Pacific.

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