Against the backdrop of aggressive posturing by China on high seas, India today declared its firm resolve to protect its maritime interests, while reaffirming its support to the maintenance of rule-based maritime systems, as mandated under the UN Convention on the Law of Seas (UNCLOS).
”We are fully determined to protect the legitimate rights and interests of our country in relation to our territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said while delivering the keynote address at the three-day Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue (IPRD).
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s description of the Indo-Pacific as a natural region, where destinies of entities were interlinked, Rajnath said,”the seas are a vital communication link to facilitate transport of goods, exchange of ideas, catalysing innovations and contributing to bringing the world closer.”
He said that although the Indo-Pacific was characterised by diversity, marked by a multiplicity of cultures, ethnicities, economic models, governance systems and varied aspirations, the oceans remained a common binding link. He emphasised the need for an efficient, cooperative and collaborative harnessing of the region’s maritime potential for sustaining a steady path to prosperity.
Rajnath pointed out that while the seas offered abundant opportunities for sustenance and growth of the mankind, they posed challenges such as terrorism, piracy, drug trafficking and climate change. He called for a cooperative response to these challenges which, he said, have considerable trans-national implications. “There is a need to find convergence of interests and commonality of purpose on maritime issues,” he added.
First conducted in 2018, the IPRD is the apex international annual conference of the Indian Navy and is the principal manifestation of the Navy’s engagement at the strategic-level. The aim of each successive edition is to review both opportunities and challenges that arise within the Indo-Pacific.