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Iran, Arab Spring focus of Asian Security Conference

New Delhi,Defence/Security, Tue, 12 Feb 2013 IANS

New Delhi, Feb 12 (IANS) With Asia in the process of displacing the West as the fulcrum of the global economy, and West Asia in the midst of "tumultous changes", emerging regional and global trends will be the focus at the three-day 15th Asian Security Conference that begins here Wednesday.

Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony will inaugurate conference. National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon will address the conference on Friday.

"The most emblematic feature of the global scenario of the past three decades has been the fact that Asia is in the process of displacing the West as the fulcrum of the global economy, and China and India are its leading locomotives. The net result is that stronger strategic synergies in the fields of energy, economic and people-to-people relations among the Asian countries and countries of the Gulf region are making the latter an integral part of the unfolding Asian growth story," Arvind Gupta, chief of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), said Tuesday.

"West Asia is in the midst of tumultuous changes which presage the emergence of a new and different set of security and economic challenges and new patterns of relationships, both within the region and with countries having major stakes and interests in the region," Gupta said at a media briefing.

"Though the region has witnessed turbulence for several decades, there was, perhaps surprisingly, considerable domestic stability within individual countries mainly due to the relatively unchallengeable control that regimes exercised over their populations. However, quite unexpectedly, there has been an unprecedented popular upsurge against the ruling regimes in many countries in the Arab world during the last few years, leading to regime changes in certain cases.

"Characterised by outside observers as the 'Arab Spring', some regional commentators have expressed their concerns about the developments, terming these as the Arab Turmoil and Arab Winter", Gupta said.

Another major consequence has been that the sectarian divide, "which has long been an issue within the Islamic world and particularly in the Gulf region, has flared up acutely between the Gulf Arab states and Iran over the past two years" he added.

To this extent, one of the key sessions would be on "Nuclear Issues in West Asia".

"While Iranian engagement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Permanent 5+1 in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) continues, no mutually acceptable formula has yet been arrived at to address these concerns. The future contours of developments relating to the issue will have major repercussions on regional strategic stability," Gupta said.

Some of the questions that will be explored are Iran's status on its engagement with the international community, including the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the policy responses of Iran's neighbourhood to its suspected nuclear programme, the possible success of efforts geared towards establishing West Asia a region free of Weapons of Mass Destruction and most importantly, "the repercussions for India as a result of the developments and the likely challenges in the foreseeable future", Gupta said.

There would also be a session on "India and the Gulf" that would explore areas like strengthening relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the possible pitfalls, the expectations of the countries of the region from India and vice versa, divergences in mutual expectations and how India and the GCC can forge strategies of cooperation in new areas of mutual concern such as defence and security.

The conference will have participants from all West Asian countries as well as from the US, China, Britain and Australia, among others

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