India seeks cooperation to tackle transitional crimes in Indian Ocean region

NEW DELHI, Feb. 14 APP: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Thursday there was need for cooperation among navies of Indian Ocean to tackle transitional crimes.

Inaugurating a two-day Indian Ocean Naval Symposium here, Manmohan Singh said recent years had witnessed rise in crimes like terrorism, piracy and arms and drug trafficking which demanded to ensure safety of sea lanes.

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He said the Indian Ocean, spanning 28 million sq kms, was a host to a third of the world population and accounted for 40 per cent of the energy sources.

The sea lanes of the region had emerged as “one of the most important lines of communication in the world with container handling at the ports of Colombo, Mumbai, Chittagong, Bangkok and Malaysia’s Port Klan, registering double-digit growth,” he said.

“A growing percentage of the world’s large merchant ships and bulk carrier

ships fly an Asian flag and this expansion in trade and economic growth dictates the need to ensure the safety and security of the sea lanes,” he said.

India wanted to cooperate with all “like-minded countries” to ensure the freedom of the seas for all nations and to deepen trade and economic linkages between the Indian Ocean Rim countries, Manmohan Singh added.

Iran did not participate despite invitation from India.

The Indian Defence Minister A K Antony said regionally sensitive solutions needed to be found for problems faced by the states of the region.

Indian Naval Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta said the symposium was not aimed at forging a military alliance but was an attempt to bring “interoperability among navies of the region to tackle the growing menace of terrorism in sea and natural disasters.

“Though some nations have kept out for reasons, we have kept seats reserved for them,” he said.

The symposium will be followed by a conclave of naval chiefs of the Indian Ocean region.