Unique Initiative to Adress Maritime Issues of Indian Ocean Region

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New Delhi, Feb 7 (UNI) Seeking to consolidate the growing recognition of the importance of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the Indian Navy -- in a unique initiative -- has proposed the setting up of an inclusive and consultative regional forum, the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS).

Navies and maritime security organisations -- in respect of countries who do not have any formal navy -- of the IOR littoral nation states shall form part of this Naval Symposium here next week which is also being widely attended by various think-tanks of the Ministries of Defence and External Affairs.

The IOR extends from 20 degree East longitude to 147 degrees East longitude and covers 73.6 millions sq Km. This region is the third-largest water body on this planet and constitutes 20 per cent of the world's oceanic area. Including India, 33 countries have been identified as littoral nation states of the IOR.

This maiden Symposium aims to increase maritime cooperation among participating navies/maritime agencies by providing a forum for discussion of maritime issues -- both global and regional -- and in the process generate a flow of information and opinion between naval professionals leading to common understanding and possible agreements on the way ahead.

According to an official spokesperson, the principal objectives envisaged for the IONS will be: (a) To promote a shared understanding of the maritime issues facing the littoral states of the Indian Ocean and the formulation of a common set of strategies designed to enhance regional maritime security; (b) To strengthen the capability of all littoral nation-states of the Indian Ocean to address present and anticipated challenges to maritime security and stability; (c) To establish and promote a variety of trans-national, maritime, cooperative-mechanisms designed to mitigate maritime security-concerns amongs nation-states of the Indian Ocean; (d) To develop inter-operability in terms of doctrines, procedures, organisational and logistic systems and operational processes, so as to promote the provision of speedy, responsive and effective Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster-Relief (HADR) throughout the region; and (e) To identify any other areas of cooperation as may be mutually agreed.

To formally launch the 'IONS' initiative, the Indian Navy -- in conjunction with the National Maritime Foundation (NMF) -- has invited the Heads/Chiefs of Navy of the nation-states of the Indian Ocean littoral to the inaugural 'IONS Seminar 2008' on the subject of Constructive Engagement in the Maritime Domain. The theme of the seminar -- scheduled to coincide with the second anniversary of NMF -- is 'Contemporary Transnational Challenges - International Maritime Connectivities.

The Seminar was expected to provide a platform for eminent diplomats and strategic experts to present their papers on contemporary maritime challenges and synergy through maritime cooperation. The seminar shall be conducted in five plenary sessions chaired by renowned maritime strategists. Panel and open house discussions were also scheduled on the papers presented during these sessions.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would inaugurate the seminar on February 14 with Defence Minister AK Antony and Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee also addressing the gathering.

The spokesperson said the Seminar would lead to a conclave where the Chiefs of all maritime countries would meet to discuss the various issues of maritime concerns and ratify the aim, objective and charter of IONS. Formulation of IONS events up to the convening of its 2nd Meeting, and selection of Chairman and venue for the 2nd Meeting shall also be on the agenda.

Invitees to the 'IONS Seminar 2008' include Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.


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