India is heavily dependent on energy supplies from the Gulf region. Energy imports from the region constituted around 63 percent 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 they 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 neighborhood so that the area can prosper on its own. Reflecting on the upsurge of "extremist forces" like the ISIS, he stated that such trends have had their fallout 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.