New Delhi : A day before its special summit with the 10-nation Asean regional grouping, India Wednesday backed freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, which is disputed between many countries, including China.
"Sovereignty over areas of the South China Sea is disputed between many countries in the region, including China," Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur told the Lok Sabha in response to a question.
Kaur said India was not a party to this dispute and stressed that "it must be resolved peacefully by the countries concerned".
"India has, on several occasions, reiterated its position that it supports freedom of navigation and right of passage in accordance with accepted principles of international law and practice. These principles should be respected by all," Kaur said.
Issues relating to the South China Sea are expected to figure in discussions when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh holds talks with the leaders of the 10 countries from Southeast Asia at the two-day India-Asean commemorative summit that begins here Thursday.
China claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, parts of which are claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Recently, China objected sharply to Indian Navy Chief D.K. Joshi's remarks that the navy was ready to protect Indian economic interests in the disputed South China Sea.