New Delhi, Oct 11 (IANS) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said that India’s commitment to the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) is deeply rooted in the principles of peaceful coexistence, shared prosperity, and regional collaboration.
Addressing a Press conference at the 23rd IORA’s Council of Ministers’ meeting in Colombo, he said, “We should be equally clear where the dangers are, be it in hidden agendas, in unviable projects or in unsustainable debt. Exchange of experiences, sharing of best practices, greater awareness and deeper collaboration are part of the solutions.”
Jaishankar added that for member states to grow and prosper, development challenges must be continuously and effectively addressed.
“In particular, we should cooperate on various aspects of the maritime economy, resources, connectivity and security,” he said.
“The Indian Ocean is not only a significant body of water but also a crucial economic and strategic corridor, playing a key role in the development and prosperity of the nations around it and beyond it. India’s message of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ or ‘the world is one family’ can act as a binding force for IORA member states,” Jaishankar stressed.
The IORA brings together 23 member states, including India, with a shared goal of harnessing the immense potential of this region for the benefit of all.
India, with its extensive coastline, maritime interests, and historical ties, fully appreciates the importance of fostering collaboration and dialogue in the Indian Ocean, he added.
“Our common objective is to promote greater prosperity in the region and of making the Indian Ocean a free, open and inclusive space, based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) as the Constitution of the Seas. We will continue to progress in that regard. India’s commitment to the well-being and progress of nations of the Indian Ocean, including as first responder and a net security provider, is based on our ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, on the SAGAR outlook, and on our approach to the extended neighbourhood as well,” Jaishankar emphasised.
“It also draws on our broader vision of an Indo-Pacific that is built on a rules-based international order, rule of law, sustainable and transparent infrastructure investment, freedom of navigation and over-flight, and sincere respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. At the initiative of India, IORA’s outlook on the Indo-Pacific was adopted by the 22nd Council of Ministers’ meeting. We will again endeavour to give it practical shape in the days ahead,” he informed.
He further said that as the Vice-Chair of IORA, India will work on consolidating and streamlining efforts to promote cooperation in the realms of the six priority areas and two cross-cutting themes of the IORA, with particular emphasis on maritime safety and security, and blue economy.
“We seek to engage our fellow member states and partners to develop mutually beneficial initiatives. As the Vice-Chair of IORA, the apex regional body of this region, India will work towards further strengthening the regional identity and cooperation among IORA Member States, Dialogue Partners, and for the well-being and prosperity of the Indian Ocean community,” Jaishankar concluded.