EXTERNAL Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday called for shoring up engagement among countries of Indian Ocean region to confront challenges like safeguarding sovereignty, dealing with cases of disregard to maritime laws and flouting of long-standing pacts, in remarks seen as an oblique reference to China’s military assertiveness including along the Line of Actual Control. In an address at the seventh Indian Ocean Conference in Perth, he also flagged concerns over unsustainable debt, opaque lending practices, unviable projects and “injudicious” choices, in thinly-veiled comments that came amid concerns over many countries falling into the Chinese ‘debt trap’. “As we gaze at the Indian Ocean, the challenges besetting the world are on full display there.
At one extremity, we see conflict, threats to maritime traffic, piracy, terrorism,” Jaishankar said. “At the other, there are challenges to international law, concerns about freedom of navigation and overflights, and of safeguarding of sovereignty and of independence. Any disregard for arduously negotiated regimes like UNCLOS 1982 is naturally disturbing,” he said. Jaishankar HOLD TALKS with Wong: EXTERNAL Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday met his Australian counterpart Penny Wong and discussed the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership, the Indo-Pacific region, situation in West Asia and other regional and global topics.