India, with its democratic background and principled position of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, is in a position to work as a mediator and help ensure that peace in West Asia is restored, minister of state for external affairs V.K. Singh said on Wednesday.
The minister was speaking at the first West Asia conference on 'Geopolitical Shifts in West Asia: Trends and Implications' organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, a leading think-tank that specialises on strategic affairs.
India, with important political, economic and security stakes in the peace and stability of the region, had been following West Asian developments very closely, he said.
In light of the emerging political situation, the challenge facing India is to balance its political equations and economic interests with major regional and external players in the area.
India is heavily dependent on energy supplies from the Gulf region. Energy imports from the region constitute around 63% of India's total oil imports in 2012-13. The region is the leading trading partner for India with a total trade of around $200 billion in the same year.
Around seven million Indian passport holders live in the region and form another important symbiotic link between India and the region.
Strategically, India can play the role as a mediator, as a partner and as a country on which a lot of players in West Asia can rely on, said the minister. He said India will abide by various UN resolutions pertaining to the region for the betterment of the area and to ensure the establishment of people-centric and abiding regimes.
Elaborating on India's policy towards West Asia, Singh, a former Indian Army chief who joined the ruling BJP after his retirement, said New Delhi's policy had been to be friendly with all the players in the region.
India looked forward to a peaceful extended neighbourhood so that the area can prosper on its own.
Reflecting on the upsurge of "extremist forces" like the IS, he said that such trends have had their fallouts globally. India hoped that this "extremist manifestation" would be controlled by the regional players of the area.
Speaking on India's stand on Israel and Palestine, he said India wanted a negotiated settlement between the two nations in line with UN declarations. The two-day conference aims at deliberating on the geo-political, security, economic and strategic issues unfolding in West Asia.
Scholars from India, West Asia and other countries are participating in the conference to discuss in greater details the evolving trends and its implications for regional peace and stability.