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`India must take interest in South Asia for security reasons'

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, NOV. 25. India should take a greater interest in south and Southeast Asia, and along with other countries in the region identify and help in tackling threats there, security experts said today.

This was necessary in India's interest and would strengthen security in the region, they said at the opening of a two-day seminar on `Security dimensions of India and Southeast Asia' here.

The seminar was organised by the Centre for Security Analysis with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

The CSA president, V. R. Raghavan, said India had begun well with its "look east" policy. Cooperation with Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries had progressively developed and now India cooperated on defence issues.

This was the first seminar of its kind organised here and it would be an annual feature, Mr. Raghavan said.

The Head, Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Madras University, Gopalji Malviya, said cooperative security and bilateral arrangements on the main issues were the need of the hour in the region. There were many non-traditional threats, including drug-trafficking, maritime piracy, insurgency and gun-running. If the North Korean nuclear issue flared up, it would upset the strategic balance in the region, Mr.Malviya said.

Because of the decline of Russia, China sought to step in to fill the void.

Causes of threats

Manmohini Kaul, associate professor, Centre for South, Central, Southeast Asia and Southwest Pacific Studies at the School of International Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University, said it was in India's interest to offer all help to identify causes of traditional and non-traditional threats. The growing economic interdependence required greater coordination.

R. S. Vasan, former Coast Guard Commander (east), said India's proximity to vital sea routes meant that it would have a big role to play in ensuring security for maritime trade.

The HSF deputy managing director, Rainer Gepperth, said the organisation operated 55 projects, spread across 68 countries, worth Rs. 177 crores.

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