Pathfinder Indian Ocean Security Conference speeches
Posted on November 10th, 2020

Press Release 

The Pathfinder Indian Ocean Security Conference as a webinar Inaugural Session held on 10th, November 2020 and it will continue next two days as the 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.

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

The inaugural session of the event includes an address by Foreign Secretary, Admiral (Prof.) Jayanath Colombage, Ambassador of the United States. H.E. Alaina Teplitz; Ambassador of Japan, H.E. 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.

Foreign Secretary, Admiral (Prof.) Jayanath Colombage


10th November 2020

Key note speech by Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage, Secretary, Foreign Ministry and Director General Institute of National Security Studies (Sri Lanka)

Indian Ocean

•           Sea has always been instrumental in defining the destiny of the world by bringing people closer, melting down cultures and supporting the global economy.

•           Seaborne trade has been an engine for inclusive and sustainable growth.

•           Maritime connectivity is the key to substantive economic development for many nations.

•           Covering a massive water body of app. 70 million sq. km. and a vast geographical area stretching from the eastern shores of Africa to Australia, the Indian Ocean region is home for app. 2.7 billion people resident in the littoral countries.

•           Asia’s growing economic and political importance is undeniable

•           With the rise of Asia, the political and economic balance is increasingly shifting towards the Indo Pacific.

•           The region is becoming the key to shaping the international order in the 21st century.

•           Latest initiative for this region- Policy guide lines for the Indo-Pacific- shaping the 21st century together-

Prosperity of our society depends on freedom of shipping”. Hence need to participate in functioning growth markets

•           Global value chains are intertwined here.

•           Indian Ocean has been a well-connected ocean for trade, culture religion to move across

•           This is part of a Global Maritime Common- All should be free to be here

•           Half of the world’s container ships, one third of the World’s bulk cargo traffic and 72% of global oil shipments depend on this water body for transit purposes.

•           Security of shipping will remain a primary concern during times of peace as well as conflict. We very well know what happened during Somali Piracy

•           After an interval of nearly three decades, there are signs of IOR once again entering into another phase of big power rivalry with potential for military confrontation.

•           The Question is should the littoral countries get dragged into a superpower confrontation that is not of their making or in their interest?

•           Shouldn’t we be focusing of economic and social development? And achieving the SDGs by the target year of 2030

•           ADB report has estimated that infrastructure needs of Asia and the Pacific would exceed $ 22.6 trillion through 2030.

•           Where can this money come from? Donors? Bilateral and multilateral lenders? FDI?

•           Covid-19

o          Old certainties are questioned

o          A dangerous Recession? slowing down economies

o          Socio-economic tensions and Human emotions rising high and creates a fear and insecurity

o          Extreme forms of nationalism

o          There is and there will be interruptions to Global Supply Chains

o          Multilateral Health governance may be the way forward. Health diplomacy is at it’s best

o          Attention to Food and Medicine security

o          Countries choosing to invest more on Hospitals and Laboratories?

Geo-Political, Geo- Economical and Geo- Strategic landscape

         Indian Ocean has become significant in the 21st Century

         Two very significant initiatives are here

         Indo Pacific Strategy- Free and Open Ocean

         Belt and Road Initiative- maritime trade and infrastructure related development

         Sri Lanka wishes for a free and open Indian ocean for maritime commerce, development of maritime related infrastructure and connect to the Global supply chain across the ocean

         Present day Indian Ocean has become a stage for strategic competition for regional and global powers

         Competition is for RMB- Resources, Markets and Bases(places)

         More and more governments, organisations and institutions worldwide are making the Indo-Pacific their conceptual frame of reference and thus the basis of their policies

         However, they differ, in terms of their objectives, emphasis on different policy fields

         Today, the Quad (India, Japan, US, and Australia) is being institutionalised with a special focus on upholding the rules-based order for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

         Quad’s resolve to dominate Indo-Pacific high seas is being questioned

         Is Quad the principle driver of Indian Ocean security?

         No one country can be the net-security provider in the IO as clearly evidenced by the Piracy if the Gulf of Eden and Western Indian Ocean

         Is there a Maritime ‘Cold War’ or ‘Cool War’

         Insecurity of one country lead to insecurity of others

         IO Region is characterised by rapidly increasing arms dynamics.

         Identifying and Addressing Major Issues Including ‘mistrust’ and ‘trust deficiency’

South Asia in the Indian Ocean

•           South Asia is a complex security construct

•           South Asia is militarily, politically and economically a dynamic region

•           Region lack a common security consensus- lack of interdependence and strategic ambiguity is prevalent

•           This is a nuclearized region with two nuclear powers, India and Pakistan who are enemies for the last 72 years

•           Region borders another nuclear power- China

•           We witness regional and national security interplay in this region

•           Impact of geographic proximity on security interactions is strongest and most obvious

•           For countries such as Sri Lanka, which is an adjacent state to nuclear India -this is a trilemma- 3rd party effects-

•           Security of an innocent state can be impacted in someone else’s war

•           India’s geographical centrality, size, population and economy are key factors

•           Free and open Indian ocean for what? We need it for trade, investment, development, cooperation

Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean

         Centrality in the Ocean

         Close proximity to major SLOCs

         Close geographical proximity to India

         Amidst the spheres of influence of India, USA, China, Japan and Australia, EU, UK

         Survival of the state is most important for Sri Lanka

         We are a small state and do not have any hegemonic intentions

         Sri Lanka wishes for an Internationally accepted Rules based maritime order and freedom of maritime commerce

         To overcome asymmetry

         We believe in Multilateralism and not in Unilateralism

         We do not like to see securitization of maritime trade and development

         We wish to see a ‘balance of power’ and not a mighty hegemonic power

         Sri Lanka is not a piece of ‘Real Estate’. Please respect Sri Lanka’s National Interests

Sri Lanka’s Economy and Foreign Policy directives

         There is a brewing economic crisis amidst the Covid-19 induced global economic meltdown

         Presidents’ three pillar strategy

         National Security

         Economic Development and Empowerment

         Foreign Relations

         Five pillars of our foreign policy

         Neutrality

         Friendly relations with everyone

         Not to be caught up in major power game. We do not like to ‘hedge’ or ‘choose’ between states or ‘Band Wagoning’.

         We need to maintain Strategic Autonomy”

         Sri Lanka will not cede control of strategic assets to foreign concerns.  Investment according to SLs vision articulated in Presidents’ ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’

         Understand India’s strategic security concerns specially in maritime and air domains and not to be a strategic security concern to India.

         MDA and NSA level talks between India, Sri Lanka and Maldives

What we the Indian Ocean Littorals wish to see taking place

 We need a critical retrospection about Indian Ocean from within

•           We wish to insulate the Indian Ocean from great power rivalries as in 1971 IOPZ (49 Years ago)

o          Free from Nuclear weapons

o          No great power rivalries

o          No bases to support such rivalries

•           Peace and stability in the IO- to spread good will- to allow littoral states to develop economically

•           Strengthen Economic Cooperation- SDGs UN 2030 Agenda

o          Create wealth for people

         Ethically

         Environment friendly

•           Strengthen Global supply chain

•           Strengthen defence cooperation

•           Strengthen Maritime security Cooperation

•           Technology cooperation- Education, Health

•           Mutual respect and mutual benefit

•           Partnerships- Inclusivity and not Exclusivity.

•           Spirit of shared ‘Global Responsibilities’

         Indian Ocean to be an Open, Inclusive, Transparent, Rules based, Cooperative ocean may be under the UN

         Strengthen multi-lateral cooperation, for security, diplomatic and an economic architecture for cooperative, collaborative Regional collective security mechanism

         Alliances and partnership for the IOR to convert Maritime Asia in to Continental Asia

         There is a critical need for an Indian Ocean Narrative, Indian ocean maritime security strategy, IORA may be the way forward

         The essence of foreign policy is the relationship with the ‘other’: the ally; the foe; the friend.

         International diplomacy should work at its best in the IOR

         A journey of thousand miles start with the first step. PF IOSC

         President Elect Joe Biden stated during his victory speech You can be opponents but you do not have to be enemies”

Key note speech by Ambassador of Japan, H.E. Akira Sugiyama;

First of all, let me begin by expressing my heartfelt appreciation to the Pathfinder Foundation (PF) for organizing this conference most efficiently despite having had to face numerous challenges due to the prevailing pandemic of COVID-19. In this regard, I would like to commend the ablest team of the PF led by Mr. Milinda Moragoda, the Founder of the Foundation and Ambassador Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman, as well as Ms. Ameera Arooze, Director-Programmes, among other staff, for working tirelessly to bring us together on the common platform once again to discuss the pressing topics on the security of the Indian Ocean.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The meeting of the International Advisory Group (IAG), which was convened on March 18th last year, had aimed at hammering out the multifaceted issues impacting on the security of the Indian Ocean, and prepared ground for the current PF-IOSC. The meeting thus conducted under skillful chairmanship of Ambassador Shivshankar Menon has successfully distilled the differing views and ideas into three essential issues upon which the distinguished participants are going to discuss over the course of the next three days.

The IAG meeting identifed; a) Maritime Security and Freedom of Navigation, b)Enhancing Connectivity, and c)Addressing ‘Mistrust’ and ‘Trust Deficiency’ which resonate very closely with the three principles of the vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, that is, a)Strengthening the Rule of Law, especially Freedom of Navigation, b) Enhancing Connectivity through Quality Infrastructure”, and c)Maintaining peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific Region and beyond.

A Free and Open Indo-Pacific, whose acronym is FOIP that the Government of Japan envisages and promotes, is a vision that upholds the Indo-Pacific Oceans to be Global Commons,” or international public goods,” which would benefit all the countries, littoral and non-littoral alike, and is an inclusive concept open to all countries that share its basic principles. Such universal nature of FOIP, in my view, may have led the IAG to reach the basic affinity in its approach, which also reflects the common aspirations being long pursued in the history of the Indian Ocean – in the form of mare liberum or the free sea.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

            Sri Lanka, located at the strategic position on the east-west sea lanes, is an important partner in realizing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific”. Our Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu, during his visit to Sri Lanka last December, shortly after the inauguration of the new government under H.E. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, renewed Japan’s commitment to assisting Sri Lanka’s development as a hub in the Indian Ocean. The foundation of the present maritime cooperation between Sri Lanka and Japan, however, was laid back in 2014 when the then Prime Minister Abe paid an official visit to Sri Lanka. On that occasion, the then Prime Minister Abe and the then H.E. President Mahinda Rajapaksa issued a Joint Statement, which was appropriately titled A New Partnership between Maritime Countries”. In this Joint Statement, the two leaders expressed their determination to elevate Japan-Sri Lanka relations, which have matured and diversified based on the long-standing friendship, into a new partnership between maritime countries”; and to further strengthen the cooperative relations to play significant roles in the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific Ocean regions. Under the leadership of new Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide, Japan continues to pursue a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, and I would like to add that, as Prime Minister SUGA stated during the recent maiden Prime Ministerial visit to Vietnam and Indonesia, ASEAN’s vision for the Indo-Pacific, that is, ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) shares many fundamental commonalities with the FOIP.

Based on the agreed framework, Japan and Sri Lanka have made steady progress in the area of maritime cooperation. On the maritime safety and security, to begin with, Japan has extended assistance to Sri Lanka by, a)granting two new patrol vessels to Sri Lanka Coast Guard, b)extending technical assistance for improving oil spill management to Sri Lanka Coast Guard, in view that Sri Lanka faces heavy traffic of oil tankers off the coast everyday, and c)supporting VBSS (Visit, Board, Search and Seizure) Training Courses conducted by Global Maritime Crime Progrrame of UNODC closely supported by Sri Lanka Navy, to tackle the mounting challenge of illegal drug trafficking plaguing the regions, among others. Recently, the same patrol vessels also played an active role in contributing to the joint effort carried out by Sri Lanka and India in successfully extinguishing the fire that broke out on a distressed oil tanker steering off the coast of Sri Lanka.

In addition, Japan has been strengthening exchanges between the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) and the Sri Lanka Navy through regular port calls by JMSDF, especially on their way to and from the Gulf of Aden to engage in the counter-piracy operations.

With regard to enhancing the connectivity and maintaining the peace and prosperity in the region, Japan has been promoting Quality Infrastructure” development in accordance with international standards, with particular emphasis on a) open access, b) transparency, c) economic efficiency including life-cycle cost, and d) financial viability of recipient countries. Japan continues to engage in the development of quality infrastructure in Sri Lanka most diligently, with special focus on ports, airports, power supply, water supply, and irrigation, among others, to correspond to the needs of the Government and people of Sri Lanka. 

            Finally, the importance of Confidence-building cannot be over-emphasized for realizing the vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. The present conference of the Pathfinder Foundation will help create a conducive atmosphere for confidence-building among different stakeholders. As I stressed last year, Pathfinder Foundation’s initiative to hold this important conference has particular significance because of Sri Lanka’s unique geographical location, as I mentioned earlier, and the prominent role Sri Lanka has been playing in promoting the peace and prosperity of the region. I strongly hope that today’s conference will provide a valuable opportunity for close and constructive exchange of views of prominent experts, which will lay a precious foundation for common understanding on the way forward.

On this note, I would like to express our great pleasure of being a  partner of PF-IOSC, and once again, appreciate the Pathfinder Foundation for organizing this iconic conference.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

Co-chairs of the conference, Amb. Shivshankar Menon,

I would like to join Ambassador Bernard Goonetilleke in welcoming you all to the Pathfinder Foundation Indian Ocean Security Conference. It is a particular pleasure to welcome (back) Admiral Colombage, who made this conference possible in his previous avatar, and whom we have the privilege of hearing today.

It is good to see so many old friends at once, though virtually. I am particularly happy to see the number and high level of participants in the conference — we have over a hundred participants from business, think tanks, government, diplomatic missions and academia. This is tribute to the reputation and expertise of the speakers and the excellent papers that they have prepared.

It is also due to the importance of the subject of this conference, Indian Ocean security, and its topicality.

The Indian Ocean has always been an ocean of peace, an ocean of trade and human contact and migration. It has avoided the fate of some closed seas of being primarily a battle space or a domain of contention. It did so largely due to its geography, though the inhabitants of the littoral can claim some credit. Its open geography and predictable winds made it so.

But today our life has been complicated by several factors: by advances in technology which make contention in large open ocean spaces like the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific possible; by the contention between great powers that characterises the geopolitics of today; and, by the very high stakes that we all have in the flow of trade and energy across the Indian Ocean sea lanes. Today, the Indian Ocean is ringed by rising and rapidly developing states, and is significant to the security and prosperity of several extra-regional powers. The size of the arms build up in the Indo-Pacific in the last two decades has no parallel anywhere in history. The central geopolitical fault line in the world today is in the Asia-Pacific, not in Europe as it was in the Cold War, and the Indian Ocean, or the larger body of water known as the Indo-Pacific, is at the heart of that. As a consequence, when the world is between orders, great powers are bringing their contention to the Indian Ocean. Security has thus become an issue in forms that are new and different from what we were used to.

I speak here of security in the broadest sense — not just of the safety of mariners, fishermen and their vessels but of everything up to ecological security, including the effects that climate change and human actions are having on the ocean that is critical to our livelihoods. This is why we have sessions not just on the traditional hard security issues later today, but also on enhancing connectivity tomorrow and on identifying and addressing major issues day after tomorrow.

But lest by speaking of complicated geopolitics and ecological threats I leave you with the wrong impression, let me hasten to say that I am an optimist about the future of Indian Ocean security, despite the complications of contemporary geopolitics and the prospect of sustained great power rivalries. That is because we have the skills and experience of working together and cooperating to deal with emerging security threats. In the past, we cooperated in new and imaginative ways to successfully deal with piracy off the Horn of Africa and earlier around the Straits of Malacca. If we put our minds to it, and realise our common interest in keeping this a free and open ocean of peace, trade and travel, I am confident that we will succeed.

And that is what I hope this conference will result in — that our discussions over these three days will identify what is missing, and what more can be done, not just by the states and navies but also by the other actors who affect Indian Ocean security, broadly defined. What we suggest will have to inclusive, to serve the common interest, and to provide the maritime security and public goods in these commons that we have so far taken for granted but that are today at risk not just from geopolitics but from environmental and other factors.

I do hope that we are able through our discussions to arrive at a common understanding and a set of recommendations that would be of use to the governments, navies and others in our countries, around the Indian Ocean and beyond, build on UNCLOS to create a free and open Indo-Pacific.

With these few words, let me welcome you again and wish you success in the conference.

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.

Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman-Pathfinder Foundation.

Sri Lanka & the Indian Ocean

The Pathfinder Foundation is pleased that it was able to conduct this meeting amidst difficult circumstances. Originally, we planned to have the meeting in April this year with personal attendance of littoral countries in the IOR, for which purpose we held a preparatory meeting in March 2019. However, it had to be postponed due to the  ongoing pandemic, which made us to conduct this gathering in virtual format.

Sri Lanka’s interest in the Indian Ocean is not new. Almost half a century ago, with the support of the non-aligned countries, Sri Lanka succeeded in getting  Res.  2832 adopted by the 26th  Session of the UN General Assembly. That task was undertaken with the intention of declaring the IO as a Zone of Peace. However, the intensity of the Cold War prevailed around that time prevented further negotiations to bring that Declaration closer to reality.

During the past several years, the Pathfinder Foundation has done considerable work on the IO. We first focused on the Bay of Bengal, on which we held two regional meetings, one in 2017, and the other in 2018. And now, our focus is the wider Indian Ocean. Also, in 2018, our Foundation proposed a draft ‘Code of Conduct for the Indian Ocean’, to get the attention of the regional and extra-regional countries  for mutually agreed rule-based arrangement for the IO.

Trade led to conquest

For millennia, IO has been a place famous for maritime trade, – and, conquest was not the norm. However, with the arrival of the European powers since the beginning of the 16th century,  first for trade and later conquest, majority of L & H countries of the IO ended up becoming colonies of – one or the other European powers. Decolonization process that commenced since the end of the Second WW, saw the withdrawal of colonial powers dominated by the British from their possessions, which vacuum was quickly filled by the USA. The Great Power rivalry that was at its height around this period, led to the establishment of  new military bases, and forced countries in the region to throw their lot in favour of one or the other ideological camps.  The emergence of the NAM, since the Belgrade Conference, enabled the newly independent countries, to take shelter from the super-power rivalry. 

Rationale for the IO Security Conference

Let us briefly consider reasoning for this Conference to be convened by the Pathfinder Foundation.  Almost 3 decades after the end of the Cold War dominated by a unipolar world, we are currently witnessing signs of another change. That is, emergence of a multi-polar world, yet again. In this scenario, there are emerging global powers such as China and India, and the former, is said to be challenging the current hegemon, with consequential reaction by the US.  Meanwhile, both China and India are expected to reach the heights of their new-found economic power by the middle of the century. What has not been clearly assessed is whether China is seeking to replace the US as the leading power in the Indo-Pacific, or merely looking for its rightful place in the global system.

To achieve the predicted economic growth, emerging economic powers will require unimpeded access to energy and other resources and markets for finished goods. Each rising global power would consider that – it is their right to have unhindered access to  the desired natural resources, and it would be their duty to protect the conveyance of  such resources to their countries. Securing international sea lanes and ensuring the vital choke points in the IO will not be blocked by hostile forces, will be a responsibility that no major industrial power could ignore.

Meanwhile, no one should be surprised by the determination of the current dominant power in the IO to hinder the progress of the challenger, notwithstanding the fact it will be a harbinger for confrontation. In the colonial era, European powers fought against each other using cannons mounted on sail ships. Any naval confrontation in the 21st century will rely on submarines, cruise missiles and wholly new generation of weapons with devastating results, disrupting the global economy and security.

We have also witnessed extra-regionals getting involved in regional armed conflicts such as the ‘Tanker War’ during the 8-year long Iran-Iraq war. As the confrontations escalated, the USA,  its allies and the Russian Federation deployed their naval vessels to protect movement of oil tankers. In that process, firing of missiles against ships, deploying of mines  in the Gulf resulting in hits that nearly sank ‘USS Samuel B. Roberts’,  attacking Iranian oil platforms, and accidental downing of an Iranian civilian airliner by a missile occurred in quick succession. Fighting raged until July 1988, when the UN Security Council Resolution 598 was adopted resulting in a ceasefire. That confrontation was not an isolated incident, as similar confrontations occurred in in the Gulf, during 2019 and 2020, with attacks, counter attacks and seizure of oil tankers etc. drone attacks against Aramco owned oil processing facilities  in Saudi Arabia etc., which threatened the security of the Gulf region and the global economy.

Looking at the larger picture, confrontations between the dominant power and the challenger, may or may not decide, who the winner is.  However, consequential fallout will be detrimental to the interests of the littoral countries, whose priority would be uninterrupted economic development leading to wellbeing of their populations. According to the ADB, the development needs of the Asian countries would be in the range of massive 26 trillion dollars from 2016 – 2030! Consequently, priority of the countries in the region  would be to realize their development goals, and that will not be possible by choosing to become party to military confrontations of others.

Meanwhile, we also note the steady expansion of navies by regional states, such as India, Iran, Pakistan etc. while other countries such as Bangladesh and Myanmar have acquired submarine capability demonstrating their interest in safeguarding their national security.

Countries in the region also have to face security threats emanating from non-state actors, who engage in piracy, drug and gun running, people smuggling, IUU fishing etc. Piracy around the Horn of Africa necessitated establishment of tripartite coalition consisting of the NATO, the EU and the US combined Maritime Forces, with others, such as India and China joining in  anti-piracy patrolling, in response to the call made by the UN Security Council.

We have to accept the fact that the Indian Ocean is a common heritage of the global community, and as in the past, its sea lanes will continue to provide accessibility to regional as well as extra-regional states. Meanwhile, non-state actors too will make use of the ocean to carry out illegal activities, as Sri Lanka had experienced during the separatist war that ended in 2009. What is needed therefore is an arrangement to maintain ‘good order at sea’.  Ensuring the ocean is ‘open and free’ for all, without exception, in keeping with the Convention on the Law of the Sea and finding ways and means of addressing any shortcomings in that Convention, through discussion and negotiation, and taking steps for domain awareness are among the solutions to the problem.

Let me conclude by asking, is it practical to expect removal of naval and other military assets of the extra-regional powers from the IO? Is it pragmatic to expect emerging naval powers not to establish such facilities, which in their opinion, are necessary to ensure supply energy and other resources? Finally, what specific arrangements are available or necessary to address the prevailing mistrust, which may result in miscalculations leading to armed confrontation? Perhaps we should concentrate more on confidence building measures and give high priority to domain awareness.

It is the expectation of the Pathfinder Foundation that the papers submitted by the eminent academics and professionals would enable the participants to address the broad issues during our 3-day discussion.

Thank you.

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