Eastern Times Correspondent, Dhaka, 14 March: An effective information exchange network may be considered and agreed in the first case by all the member states to ensure freedom and safety of navigation overcoming overall maritime challenges in the Indian Ocean and to readily respond to any challenges at sea, said Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Sunday.
“We look forward to having a new world with more cooperation and connections for responding to the challenges,” he said.
The Foreign Minister said if there is a clear quest for more cultural, economic, politics and even strategic emancipation from the large foreign powers and among the regional organizations, this does necessarily mean that a wide and dynamic regional cooperation may be successfully developed as normally expected.
Dr Momen was addressing the regional conference on ‘Connectivity in the Indo-Pacific (Ocean) Reconnecting peoples, facilitating human development for prosperity of all from the Bay of Bengal’ held at Independent University.
Ambassador Tariq A. Karim, Director, Centre for Bay of Bengal Studies, Professor Tanweer Hasan, Vice Chancellor, Independent University of Bangladesh, Ito Naoki, Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh, Vikram Doraiswami, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh, Ambassador Tenzin Lekphell, Secretary General of BIMSTEC, Dhaka were present.
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The Foreign Minister said the Indian Ocean is rich in untapped natural resources, with some of the world’s largest reserves of gas and other seabed minerals, as well as, it is increasingly believed, about the presence of oil.
Linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the Bay of Bengal occupies a central position in relation to global economic flows in a way that few other regions do, he said.
As a strategic funnel to the Malacca Straits and Lombok Strait, the region has been an important location in the strategic calculations of the great powers of the world and has grown in strategic importance for China and Japan, and India as well, Dr Momen said He said devising a comprehensive strategy for one of the most diverse, complex, and contested regions in the world is by no means an easy task, and no individual or organization can comprehensively predict the best ways to grapple with Indo-Pacific Ocean strategy in the near future with pinpoint accuracy.
Indo-Pacific ocean construct may be governed by peace and prosperity of the Region focusing on socio-economic development of the region to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he said.
“It should also ensure establishing a meaningful relationship with the other countries in the Indo Pacific to promote accelerated technological change in order to explore and exploit the oceanic resources to empower the youth and women; promote sustainable and equitable growth and decent employment in the region,” Dr Momen said.
He said Bangladesh may broaden and deepen alliance cooperation and encourage the possible economic and security engagement with the littoral states under the umbrella of the Indian Ocean Rim Association Bangladesh would be taking over as the Chair this year and at the same time strengthen Bangladesh’s Comprehensive and Strategic partnership with other countries which are also vital for both to pursue extensive bilateral interests.