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Significance of S Jaishankar's visit to Perth for 7th Indian Ocean Conference

Perth's selection as the venue holds strategic significance, given its pivotal location within the Indian Ocean region

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Surinder Singh Oberoi
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Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar arrives for the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting at the Parliament House during the Winter session

Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar (File image)

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister, Dr S Jaishankar, is embarking on a significant journey to Perth, Australia, where he will participate in the much-anticipated 7th Indian Ocean Conference beginning tomorrow.

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This conference serves as a platform for nations in the Indian Ocean Region to convene and deliberate on pressing matters crucial to the region's prosperity and security, more so when sea pirates have shown their presence in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea non-state actors have increased their attacks on merchant civilian ships affecting global trade.

Organized annually by the Ministry of External Affairs in partnership with the India Foundation, this conference has become a cornerstone event on the international diplomatic calendar.

The 7th edition of this gathering, slated for February 9-10, 2024, is poised to be particularly significant. Collaboratively hosted by Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the prestigious S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, and the Perth-US Asia Centre.

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Under the theme "Towards a Stable and Sustainable Indian Ocean," aims to foster discussions and strategies aimed at ensuring the region's long-term stability and sustainable development.

Dr Jaishankar, alongside other dignitaries including the President of Sri Lanka, Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe, Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms Penny Wong, and Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, will inaugurate the conference with their insights and perspectives.

Their collective presence underscores the shared commitment of nations to tackle common challenges including maritime security and explore avenues for collaboration in the Indian Ocean Region.

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The conference is set to attract delegates from over 22 countries, comprising ministers, senior officials, and representatives from six multilateral organizations. Additionally, it will draw participation from various sectors including social, corporate, and media, with attendees hailing from approximately 40 countries. This diverse assembly reflects the broad spectrum of stakeholders invested in the ocean's stability and prosperity.

Since its inception in 2016, the Indian Ocean Conference has catalyzed fostering dialogue and cooperation among nations in the region. Through discussions and strategic engagements, it has contributed to shaping regional agendas and forging partnerships aimed at addressing shared challenges.

This year's conference agenda is forward-looking, encompassing discussions on critical issues such as climate change, the blue economy, global resource management, and the cultivation of partnerships.

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Dr Jaishankar's recent meeting with the Australian High Commissioner to India, Philip Green, underscores the importance of the India-Australia partnership in advancing mutual interests and regional stability.

Perth's selection as the venue holds strategic significance, given its pivotal location within the Indian Ocean region. As a cultural and economic bridge between Australia and India, Perth symbolizes the potential for enhanced cooperation and connectivity.

The forthcoming conference is poised to delve into critical issues about maritime security, governance, and cooperation. By addressing these challenges head-on and exploring avenues for collective action, participants aim to chart a course towards a more stable and prosperous Indian Ocean Region.

As nations navigate the complex dynamics of the Indian Ocean, the imperative of safeguarding its resources, securing vital passages, and combating transnational threats remains a high priority of every participating country.

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