Gulf wants India's proactive participation in regional security

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 15, 2013 14:30 hrs

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) India should proactively participate in the framework of Gulf security, panellists at the Asian Security Conference here said Friday.

Perceived as a "morally correct power and acceptable to every one", india could also be included as a critical partner in dialogue with Iran on nuclear issues, or perhaps as a P5+2 Group, they said at the concluding day of the three-day international conference.

Sanjay Singh, Secretary, East, in the external affairs ministry said the key element in the security arrangements in the Gulf over the last 40 years had been the US determination to ensure that no other external power could exert a dominant influence over the region so that it could have an unhindered access to Gulf oil.

However, with the development of alternative sources of energy like shale oil and gas in its home territory, the US dependence on Gulf had been declining and could result in reduced American interest in the region.

He was taking part at a Roundtable on the "Role of Asia in Evolving Security dynamics and architecture of the Gulf Region" which examined the possibilities of Asia's potential involvement in the changing security dynamics of the region.

The panelists highlighted India and China's growing dependency on the Gulf and as leading trade partners of the Gulf countries.

The most important dimension of the change in the balance of economic interest in the Gulf region, they said, was that the Gulf States were in a stronger position than before to lessen external strategic involvement in the region--whether from the West or East.

The panellists also agreed that Arab Spring had effected deep rooted changes and the regional balance of power in West Asia is rapidly changing.

Iran and Egypt seemed to be consolidating a fresh strategic partnership, while Israel was not throwing up any fresh ideas.

There was a near consensus during the conference that the multilateral framework of Gulf security would have to encompass participation from Iraq, Iran and perhaps Egypt, besides the Gulf Cooperation Council. Such a framework will have to overcome mutual mistrusts and asymmetries, they added.

The conference, hosted by the Indian Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), provided an opportunity for policy makers, scholars and security analysts, both from India and abroad, to share their views on the security challenges facing the continent. The conference had participants from most Middle Eastern countries.

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