Issue relating to remarks on Prophet informally discussed at ASEAN-India meet: Singapores FM

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The controversy triggered by objectionable remarks on Prophet Mohammad was discussed “informally” at an ASEAN-India meeting on Thursday, Singapores Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said, describing the issue as “a delicate subject”.

India hosted the special ASEAN-India foreign ministers meeting in New Delhi to mark the 30th anniversary of its relations with the 10-nation grouping.

Balakrishnan attended the meeting in his capacity as the country coordinator for India in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

He shared that the issue is “a delicate subject” and was discussed at the meeting informally, Singaporean news broadcaster Channel News Asia reported.

“Let me just reflect views from a Singapore perspective. I think this episode is another stark reminder why we need to be so careful and why we need to strongly reject hate speech, incendiary speech, speech which incites or aggravates, or causes insult or division within societies,” Balakrishnan told Singaporean media.

“And this is just another reminder and is an affirmation for why we take such a strict approach to this in Singapore,” he said.

The controversial comments against the Prophet triggered an outrage in the Arab world, with several countries issuing statements denouncing the remarks.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has suspended its national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled its Delhi unit media head Naveen Jindal for allegedly making the derogatory comments.

At the meeting, the foreign ministers of India and the ASEAN nations agreed to work towards a “meaningful and substantive” comprehensive strategic partnership and explored ways to navigate the implications of the developments in Ukraine on trade and regional security.

“ASEAN has always stood tall as a beacon of regionalism, multilateralism and globalisation. It has successfully carved out a niche for itself in the region and provided the foundation for the evolving strategic and economic architecture in the Indo-Pacific,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said at the meeting.

He said the ASEANs role today is perhaps more important than ever before, given the geopolitical challenges and uncertainties that the world faces. “India fully supports a strong, unified and prosperous ASEAN, one whose centrality in the Indo-Pacific is fully recognised,” Jaishankar said.

The ASEAN is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region. India and several other countries, including the US, China, Japan and Australia, are its dialogue partners.

ASEAN-India Dialogue Relations started with the establishment of a sectoral partnership in 1992. This graduated to a full dialogue partnership in December 1995 and a summit-level partnership in 2002.

The ties were elevated to a strategic partnership in 2012. The ASEAN is central to Indias Act East policy and its vision for the wider Indo-Pacific.

The ASEAN comprises Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei, the Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia and Myanmar.


(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)

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