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Cooperative engagement with neighbours strategic imperative: Navy Chief

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NEW DELHI (PTI): India's core national interests are connected to the security of its neighbourhood and cooperative engagement with neighbouring countries is therefore a strategic imperative, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba has said.

Admiral Lanba said the first big step in this direction is to ensure "a bi-level transparency" that should result in deep trust among all stakeholders in the region.

Informed dialogue, sharing of views, opinions and concerns on a common platform involving all stakeholders are possibly the best ways to achieve that level of trust, he said during his address at 'The Global Dialogue Security Summit' organised by the Global Dialogue Review in New Delhi.

"A number of India's core national interests are linked to the region's security. Security in the neighbourhood with cooperative engagement with our neighbours is therefore a strategic imperative," the Navy Chief said.

His remarks come in the backdrop of India's uneasy ties with the Maldives, the country's immediate littoral neighbour.

The bilateral relationship nosedived after India criticised the Abdulla Yameen government for imposing a 45-day emergency in the archipelago-nation earlier this year.

In a lecture at the Vivekananda International Foundation in May, Admiral Lanba termed the Maldives a "challenge" for India as its government was more inclined towards China.

The Chinese presence in the strategic Indo-Pacific region, especially in India's neighbourhood, has increased. Hydrocarbon-rich disputed regions such as the South China Sea have been witnessing muscle flexing by the Chinese Navy.

Admiral Lanba said the recent trend in geopolitical and strategic interactions between countries is chequered with uncertainties, and the existing and aspiring powers are continuously trying to establish predominance in their areas of interest.

"India's neighbourhood, due to its rising importance in global security calculus, is rapidly becoming an arena of such jostling," he added.

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