USA eyes joint naval exercises to protect Indian Ocean trade

USA eyes joint naval exercises to protect Indian Ocean trade”

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena claimed his government had "defused" the issue of accountability for war crimes since coming in to power and avoided an global criminal tribunal. The conference has participation from around 35 countries. "If the revitalised maritime economy of the Indian Ocean region is to be a force for global economic growth in the coming years, it is essential that the waters remain peaceful, stable and secure". EAM Sushma arrived in Colombo to participate in the 2nd Indian Ocean Conference.

"Our vision for the Indian Ocean region is to preserve its organic unity, while advancing cooperation".

The Indian Ocean is of vital strategic importance to India as it consists of 2.4 million square km of economic zone and nearly all of India's oil imports come through it.

The minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's program SAGAR is aimed at building trust among nations in the region and develop coherent framework for economic revival. "We already have Free Trade Agreements with India and Pakistan".

Sushma Swaraj said that India was implementing targeted programmes for re-energising economic activity in its islands and coastal areas. She called for the development of a security architecture for collective action. She said that her government is committed for port connectivity through Sagarmala project.

Sri Lankan authorities found more than 200 kilogrammes (440 pounds) of cocaine in a consignment of sugar that came through Colombo's main port last month in just the latest high-value seizure in recent times.

Earlier in the day, Ms Swaraj met her Sri Lankan counterpart Tilak Marapana and discussed key aspects of bilateral cooperation.

The conference will be inaugurated by Seychelles Vice- President Vincent Meriton, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan besides Swaraj.

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