Indian Ocean navies to seek joint anti-piracy operations

May 6th, 2010 - 7:53 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 6 (IANS) Naval chiefs and officers from 37 countries, including India, of the Indian Ocean region will seek a joint initiative at a conclave in Abu Dhabi next week to tackle piracy off the coast of Somalia that has threatened to cripple vital shipping lanes.
The May 10-12 summit “Together for the Reinforcement of Maritime Security” in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital, will also deliberate on how the navies could reduce their carbon footprint, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Foreign Cooperation and Intelligence) Rear Admiral S.Y. Shrikhande told reporters here.

“There is going to be a session on anti-piracy that may finally lead to a joint fight against the menace,” Shrikhande said about the piracy off the Somalia coast that has more than doubled in 2009 from the previous year and poses a serious threat to shipping activities.

The UAE Navy is hosting the second biannual conclave of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) - an Indian Navy initiative for maritime cooperation in the third largest water body after the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans.

India will also hand over the chairmanship of IONS to the UAE at the conclave where the participants will consider the formal requests by the US, Britain and Japan navies to be included as observers in the grouping.

The three navies have already applied for the status, the naval officer said, adding there was no chance of granting permanent membership to any non-Indian ocean country.

Pakistan, which had earlier opposed the grouping, is also likely to attend the conclave. When first biannual summit of the bloc was held in New Delhi in February 2008, Pakistan was represented by its naval attache to India.

The 37-nation naval bloc created in 2008 is a forum for discussion on global and regional maritime issues like fleet building, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions, technologies and threats and vulnerabilities.

The participants will try to promote a shared understanding of the maritime issues facing the littoral states of the Indian Ocean and enhance regional maritime security.

“They will also try to establish and promote a variety of trans-national, maritime, cooperative-mechanisms designed to mitigate maritime security-concerns amongst member states,” Shrikhande said.

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