India, Indonesia reiterate bilateral Indo-Pacific maritime ties

Jakarta: Acknowledging the need to maintain maritime safety and security in the Indo-Pacific region, India and Indonesia on Wednesday reiterated that for peace, stability and sustainable economic growth, it was essential for both countries to ensure “a free, open, transparent, rules-based, peaceful, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.”

A joint statement issued after one-on-one talks between Indonesian President Joko Widodo and visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and followed by a delegation-level meeting between the two sides, said both countries had reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring respect for “sovereignty and territorial integrity, international law, in particular UNCLOS, freedom of navigation and over-flight, sustainable development and an open, free, fair and mutually beneficial trade and investment system.”

Through the joint statement, both President Joko Widodo and Prime Minister Modi also reaffirmed “development in the maritime waters of the Indo-Pacific region as enshrined by UNCLOS and relevant international laws.”

Recognising that with a coastline of 7,500 kilometers, with more than 1,380 islands and more than two million square kilometers of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), India occupies a central position in the Indo-Pacific region, and that Indonesia is the largest archipelagic state in the world, with a coastline of 108,000 kilometers, with 17,504 islands and features and a total of maritime space of 6,400,000 square kilometers, including an EEZ, both sides agreed that this geographical detail acts as “a fulcrum that connects the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.”

Both sides and their leaders said, “The two oceans represent a combined maritime region which is important for global maritime trade and commerce.”

Both President Joko Widodo and Prime Minister Modi reiterated that India and Indonesia have a shared vision on maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. They recalled the joint statement issued by the two countries on maritime cooperation on December 12, 2016 during the state visit of President Jokowi to India.

It was noted that both India and Indonesia are maritime neighbours and sea faring nations, “Whose relations are rooted in civilisational contacts developed through the seas and who share similar perceptions of the evolving maritime environment in the region and world at large.”

Both leaders expressed a desire for “strengthening their maritime cooperation for promotion of peace, stability and bringing in robust economic growth and prosperity to the Indo-Pacific region, while at the same time adhering to the rights and obligations under the international law including the Charter of the United Nations, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1976 Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC).”

The two sides welcomed the elevation of bilateral relationship between the two countries to the level of a comprehensive strategic partnership and the creation of new mechanisms like bilateral security dialogue, trilateral dialogue, signing of an enhanced defense cooperation agreement etc.

The joint statement also made a mention of the appreciation of the leadership role played by both Indonesia and India as previous Chairs of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to build a more peaceful, stable and prosperous Indian Ocean region through enhanced cooperation as mandated in the Jakarta Concord and Plan of Action as the results of the IORA Leaders’ Summit held in March 2017 in Jakarta to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the IORA.

Underscoring the importance of addressing the emerging maritime security issues facing the Indo-Pacific region, including the smuggling of people, arms, drugs and money; illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; and the movement of terrorists, it was emphasized that there is a continuous need for enhancing connectivity and promoting regional prosperity as per recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency, equality and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Both sides, the joint statement said, looked forward to the expeditious conclusion of ASEAN-India Maritime Transport Agreement as also to exploring convergences and complementarities in the region between India’s Act East Policy and Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR), and Indonesian Ocean Policy and Indonesia’s Global Maritime Fulcrum Vision, while reaffirming the importance of the ASEAN centrality and unity.

The two sides also recognized the importance of the Blue Economy as a driver of inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development in the region. (ANI)