Foreign Minister Jaishankar, In A Veiled Dig At China, Stresses Significance Of Territorial Integrity At Indian Ocean Rim Association Meet

Swarajya Staff

Oct 11, 2023, 05:00 PM | Updated 04:59 PM IST

Foreign Minister S Jaishankar. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)

In a veiled dig at China on its aggressive attitude and contravention of international laws, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said sincere respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity remains the foundation for reviving the Indian Ocean as a strong community, reported The Hindu.

Jaishankar was speaking at the 23rd Council of Ministers Meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) in Colombo.

He stressed the significance of maintaining the Indian Ocean as an open, inclusive, and free space in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

As India assumed the role of Vice-Chair for IORA for 2023-25, Jaishankar reaffirmed India's commitment to capacity-building, safety, and security in the Indian Ocean region, positioning itself as a first responder and net security provider.

"A multilateral rules-based international order, along with sincere respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity remains the foundation for reviving the Indian Ocean as a strong community," he reiterated.

He further highlighted the central role the Indian Ocean plays in the resurgence of Asia and the global rebalancing, emphasising its vital contribution to the development and prosperity of the littoral nations through trade, livelihood support, connectivity, and resource utilisation.

Jaishankar invoked the message of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' or 'the world is one family' as a unifying force for IORA member states.

In his capacity as Vice-Chair, Jaishankar outlined India's priorities, aiming to develop a stable, prosperous, and resilient Indian Ocean community that can cooperate effectively within the region and address challenges beyond its borders.

He also stressed the importance of maintaining the Indian Ocean as a free, open, and inclusive space based on UNCLOS.

China's assertive activities in the region, including territorial disputes in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, have raised concerns among other nations.

Jaishankar further addressed the challenges faced by the region, including developmental issues, inadequate connectivity, unsustainable debt from unviable projects, extremism, terrorism, and the impact of natural disasters and climate change.

As the Vice-Chair for the next two years, India pledged to work with IORA member states to strengthen the organisation's institutional, financial, and legal framework, harnessing the full potential of this dynamic coalition.

India's specific focus will be on maritime safety and security and the blue economy as a coordinating country. India also committed to contributing to other priority and cross-cutting areas of IORA as needed.

The meeting was attended by 16 ministers, including the foreign ministers of Bangladesh, Iran, Mauritius, Malaysia and South Africa.

Get Swarajya in your inbox.