Sri Lanka to join US, Japan and others to discuss maritime security

Sri Lanka will join the US, Japan and representatives from several other countries this week to discuss maritime security.

Following up on several successful bilateral and multilateral conferences, its Trincomalee Consultations on the Bay of Bengal held in 2017 and 2018, and a high-level International Advisory Group Meeting, Chaired by Ambassador Shivshankar Menon in 2019, the Pathfinder Foundation is due to convene The Pathfinder Indian Ocean Security Conference as a webinar on 10th, 11th and 12th November 2020.

Thirty-six littorals and IORA Dialogue Partner countries were invited to the conference, focusing on Maritime Security and Maritime Governance in the Indian Ocean with over one hundred confirmed participants including governments, diplomatic missions, academia, think-tanks and research institutes and the business community.

The inaugural session of the event on Tuesday, 10th November will include an address by Foreign Secretary, Admiral (Prof.) Jayanath Colombage, Ambassador of the United States. Alaina Teplitz; Ambassador of Japan, Akira Sugiyama; and Co-chairs of the conference, Amb. Shivshankar Menon, who was the former Foreign Secretary and National Security Advisor to the Government of India and Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman-Pathfinder Foundation.

The 3-day event will then hold three sessions. The first, on Maritime Security and Freedom of Navigation, will be moderated by Prof. Raja C. Mohan, Director-Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore; whilst the second session on Enhancing Connectivity will be moderated by Dr. Frederic Grare, Senior Associate and Director South Asia programme, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the third session to be moderated by Amb. Robert O. Blake Jr., former Ambassador of the United States to Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia and Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs. The three sessions will include presentations by speakers from India, Russia, the US, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Australia, China and Japan.

This track 1.5 event is expected to create a platform for all stakeholders i.e. policy makers, relevant government officials, researchers, scholars, subject matter experts, think-tank representatives, print and electronic media etc. to engage in a constructive discussion, sharing expertise on relevant topics with a view to contribute to maintain the Indian Ocean free of power rivalry, and facilitate free and unimpeded navigation for all interested parties, without exception and exclusion. The space provided by the conference could also be used to enhance bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation and collaboration to address common threats in this global maritime common. It will also provide opportunities for networking and fellowship among participants and policy makers.

The platform provided by the conference for an open and free discussion is expected to create a conducive environment to address existing mistrust and rivalry among the regional and extra-regional states; the impact on environmental security arising from climate change and global warming; and transnational maritime crime among others.

It is the expectation of the Pathfinder Foundation that an open discussion on the above and other related issues would result in mutually beneficial win-win situation for the littorals as well as other users of the Indian Ocean.

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