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Indian Navy downplays concerns of international naval exercise by Pak

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India has also been conducting the TROPEX 2017 maritime drill in the Arabian Sea.

NEW DELHI (PTI): Indian Navy has downplayed apprehensions over an international naval exercise being organised by Pakistan in the Arabian Sea this week, terming it as a "normal maritime activity" every nation was entitled to.

"This is an exercise hosted by Pakistanis once in two years. And 16 nations are taking part in it. It is a normal maritime activity any nation is entitled to," Sunil Lanba, Chief of Naval Staff, told reporters at the sidelines of a conference organised by the National Maritime Foundation (NMF) on Thursday.

Pakistan is organising 'Aman-17' from February 10-14.

Navies from Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Russia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States are participating in the joint exercise.

A day after the IL 38 Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft (LRMRA) carried out a successful anti-ship missile firing on a target ship in the Arabian Sea, Lanba said, all the LRMRAs with the Indian Navy will now have the ability to take on any ship.

The LRMRAs are used for surveillances, especially to keep a track on hostile submarines.

The P-8I Boeing aircraft with the Navy also has similar capabilities, the Navy Chief said.

Speaking at the conference titled 'The Blue Economy', Lanba emphasised on the need for a suitable policy and a legal framework for national and international level to address different aspects of the blue economy.

"Identify the differences between the existing national and international laws and policies which should be amended or modified to include tenants of blue economy. For instance, suitable safeguards (are necessary) for fisheries management so that the practise conforms to the tenants of the blue economy.

"Science based approach is also necessary for development of blue economy," he said, adding that high international cooperation was imperative if the concept of blue economy had to take roots.

Blue economy refers to the use of the sea and its resources for sustainable economic development.

"India has also been cooperating closely with a number of countries such as Mauritius, Seychelles, Bangladesh and Australia to implement and harness the concept of blue economy," the Navy Chief said.
Lanba said India had always been a maritime nation, but it "lost focus" in the past.

"We had become land-centric and (with a) continental mindset, which had shifted now. India as a nation...our destinies linked to the ocean. That is why, there is a renewed focus on maritime," he said.

Emphasising on the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean Region, known as the economic highways and critical to the global economy, Lanba said as the strategic and economic values of these sea lanes increase, the challenges entailing them will also rise.

"To address these challenges, it is imperative that the navies and maritime agencies of different countries join hands to anchor collective security, stability and sustained growth for the entire region.

"The Indian Navy will continue to accord greater focus to enhance collective ability of countries in Indian Ocean region to monitor and secure the maritime zones," Lanba said.

Speaking at the conference, Union Minister for Skill Development Rajiv Pratap Rudy emphasised on organising an international skill conference on blue economy and maritime activities, in which aspects like skilling retired navy personnel could be discussed.

This could further be taken up with the Skill Development Ministry, he said.

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