Dharmendra Pradhan seeks collective effort to defeat maritime terrorism

Bhubaneswar: Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan today asked the East Asian countries to adhere to freedom of navigation and lawful use of the sea in order to defeat maritime terrorism.

He said a collective effort is required to deal with maritime terrorism and crimes including trafficking of drugs and humans, smuggling of arms and weapons of mass destruction, illegal fishing and cyber threats.

Inaugurating the third East Asia Summit (EAS) conference on maritime security and cooperation here, Pradhan said East Asian countries must adhere to freedom of navigation and other related internationally lawful use of the sea.”

He said Odisha should become the maritime gateway to the region by virtue of many important ports and waterways in the state.

He also referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech delivered at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore on June 1 and the Delhi Declaration of ASEAN India Commemorative Summit held in New Delhi on January 25, 2018, where maritime security and safety were identified as important areas of cooperation between India and the region.

Pradhan also spoke on the importance of oceans for trade and the necessity of ensuring safety of maritime sea-lanes and cooperation among countries to keep the oceans free for navigation and unimpeded commerce.

Pradhan said India is the closest maritime neighbour of South East Asia and enjoyed ancient maritime and cultural links with the region.

Recalling the festival of Bali Yatra, which was a voyage to Bali, Indonesia that was undertaken during the ancient days by merchants and seafarers from Odisha, he also highlighted the potential that Odisha holds to become the maritime gateway to the region.

East Asia Summit (EAS) is a forum of 18 countries comprising Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, USA and Vietnam that aims to further the objectives of regional peace, security and prosperity.

The conference is an official level dialogue mechanism between India and member countries of EAS to discuss issues related to maritime domain.

Vice Admiral Pradeep Chauhan, Director, National Maritime Foundation, Anurag Bhushan, IFS, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs (ASEAN), Government of India, and Dr Prabir De, Professor, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) attended the meeting.

The conference was attended by 52 delegates from 16 countries.

The delegates will be taken on a heritage tour to Dhauli and Konark on June 9 in order to give them an exposure to the heritage and cultural sites of the state, officials said.

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