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    Sri Lanka opposes military rivalry in Indian Ocean region - PM Featured

    September 05, 2019

    Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday told the Indian Ocean Conference meeting in The Maldives that the Indian Ocean was becoming “a theatre of contemporary global geopolitics with India and China on one hand, and the and USA and China on the other, competing for space”.The Prime Minister was addressing the fourth edition of Indian Ocean Conference (IOC) 2019, on Tuesday night , at the Paradise Island Resort in The Maldives.

    The Premier told the gathering that the harrowing events in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday “are pressing reminder of continuing threat from violent non state actors”. Wickremesinghe argued that the Easter bomb explosions confirm a change in ISIS strategy.“The 2016 bombing in Bangladesh, 2017 in Egypt and, 2018 in Indonesia are such indicators that this is a franchise form of terrorism – a new challenge where religious affiliates claiming allegiance to the ISIS to carry out attacks,” he said.
    “Sri Lanka believes that a robust domestic counter terrorism legal framework complying with international law and respect democratic rights is essential for the state to counter the world terrorism” he said.The conference was organized by India Foundation in association with the Foreign Service Institute of Maldives and S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. Singaporean Minister of Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan and Indian External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar also addressed the conference.

    “Indian ocean regionalism has been hampered to a large extent by conflicting national interests , and lack of result oriented approach,” the Premier noted.”Terrorist activities of the ISIS have become a priority security issue. Terrorism is the serious problem of contemporary society.” He said greater regional cooperation was also needed in this respect.
    “The assistance of Interpol sharing data base of potential terrorists in Sr Lanka and many other countries is welcome. We must also focus on enhancing national capacities of the countries in the Indian Ocean through technical assistance and enhanced intelligence sharing,” he said The Prime Minister said the World Bank has forecast that the global GDP growth will slow down to 2.6 per cent this year from 3 per cent in 2018 due to rising trade barrier and sharper than expected down turn in the major economies. “Investment Bank Morgan Stanley recently warned that the risk of a global recession is high and rising”, he said.
    The increasing economic uncertainty has been accompanied by rising global tension, the shifting dynamics of the global economy and emergence of new power are creating an asymetrical bipolar world with USA and China leading tensions from middle east to East Asia and beyond, he said. He added that global energy needs were expected to double by 2030 with India and China accounting for nearly half of the new growth in demand.

    “With such heightened economic activity maritime security concerns are inevitable. All these political and economic developments have led to the most pressing challenges which is the tripolar competition in the Indian Ocean. He said that countries in the Indian Ocean have to promote Indian ocean regionalism step by stepHe said that the Indian ocean was tipped to become a theatre of contemporary global geopolitics with India and China on one hand, and the and USA and China on the other, competing for space.
    The Prime Minister at the outset of the speech paid a glowing tribute to former External Affairs Minister of India Sushma Swaraj who was committed to more closer cooperation among states in the Indian Ocean.“May I preface my address this afternoon by paying tribute to the memory of Sushma Swaraj, my good friend was also a distinguished former Minister of External Affairs of India.When she was recovering from a prolonged illness, I did not expect her to make a journey to Hanoi. But her commitment was such that she was there with us and all of us who knew her will miss her. But we must thank and remember her for contributions she made to this conference”, the Prime Minister said.
    The Prime Minister touched on several topics during his address on the looming threat of global recession. He also talked about the US-China trade crisis with the Asia-Pacific region being the pivot of the relationship.“As we are all aware, this tension between the US and China is also changing the security temperament of the Indo Pacific. This was evident at the Shangri-La Dialogue this year,” he said
    Citing the example of the recent G7 Summit ending without a formal communique, Wickremesinghe claimed that various multilateral bodies established over the past few decades to resolve issues are showing “severe strain”.He said Sri Lanka has opposed military rivalry in the region adding that the country will continue championing peace and stability in the region.
    It is for this reason that Sri Lanka took a crucial role in the UN Law of the Sea Conference .He emphasized Sri Lanka’s support for free rules-based navigation in the Indian Ocean He also announced that negotiations for an expanded trade agreement was under way with India “We have agreed to negotiate further agreements with Thailand and the other ASEAN states. Negotiations are also underway for a new trade agreement with China and an expanded trade agreement with Inda , he said

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