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India will continue to oppose aggression attempts on land, sea: Defence Secy

PANAJI (PTI): Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar on Monday said India will work with all willing nations for peace in the region, push for a rules-bound world and continue to oppose attempts of aggression on land and the sea.

He lauded the Indian Navy's contribution in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and said it not only remained alert in safeguarding marine borders, but went an extra mile to provide assistance to a large number of Indian Ocean Region (IOR) littoral nations.

Kumar was addressing the third edition of 'Goa Maritime Conclave (GMC) 2021' hosted by the Indian Navy in Panaji under the aegis of the Naval War College, Goa.

The theme for this year's edition of GMC is Maritime Security and Emerging Non-Traditional Threats: A Case for Proactive Role for IOR Navies.

Kumar lauded the Indian Navy for its contribution in fighting the pandemic and also commended it for saving precious lives at the sea during cyclones and other natural calamities.

Among the armed forces, the Navy has a cardinal role in not only ensuring safe and peaceful sea lanes, but also responding to humanitarian crises in man-made or natural disaster situations, the senior bureaucrat said.

The Indian Navy has and will continue to work for HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) in the region as a first responder and net security provider, he said.

He emphasised that India will work with all willing nations for peace in the region. While standing for a rules-bound world, New Delhi will continue to oppose attempts of aggression and to deter them on land and the sea, Kumar said.

The defence secretary said maritime security and economic prosperity were inter-related and inter-dependent from the times immemorial.

Kumar said the conclave was symbolic of India's constructive engagement in the Indian Ocean Region.

He highlighted India's engagement and continued efforts towards reaching out to the nations in the region bilaterally and under the framework of IONS (Indian Ocean Naval Symposium), IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association), BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), Colombo Security Conclave and other structures.

Kumar spoke about the Indian initiative of setting up the Information Fusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) for fostering better understanding of the maritime domain and sought further support and participation from IOR countries.

At the GMC 2021, the Indian Navy is hosting chiefs of navies/heads of maritime forces from 12 IOR countries comprising Bangladesh, Comoros, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Vice Admiral AK Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command, delivered the welcome address where he highlighted the importance of the maritime domain and the Indian Navy's commitment towards ensuring safety, security, and inclusive growth in the IOR.

He reminded the participants about the maritime vision of 'SAGAR' (Security and Growth for All in the Region) articulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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