Your Excellency, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, of the Republic of Indonesia;
Your Excellency, Dr Nomvuye Noqwe, Secretary General of IORA,
Distinguished Deputy Ministers and Permanent Secretaries,
Other distinguished Invitees,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am delighted to offer a few words of welcome at this Ministerial meeting which, appropriately enough, links the conclusion of the Indian Ocean Dialogue with the start of the Delhi Dialogue. It is a pleasure to welcome all the distinguished friends, scholars and thought leaders to New Delhi in this winter season. And I am grateful to the Indian Council for World Affairs, and the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, for their efforts, support and hard work to put together an ambitious set of events here in New Delhi.
As the Indo-Pacific concept, and its essential attributes—of openness, freedom, inclusion, rules-based architecture and equality of all nations—develop momentum, it is most timely that nations from the IORA family and our ASEAN partners gather here to discuss the consequential issues that this important concept offers us.
I say this is timely because in recent years, there has been a steady trend in which nations have recognized that there is compelling logic and increasingly, a certain inevitability about the Indo-Pacific concept. Our friends in ASEAN recently set out their own Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, and many of the nations in this geography have also set out their own approaches to this concept. Our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has already set out India’s vision and approach to the Indo-Pacific in his address to the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in 2018, and to his counterparts at the 14th East Asia Summit in Bangkok in November this year.
Taking all of these factors into account, therefore it could be said that we are attempting something new in setting out a broader canvas to discuss the Indo-Pacific, and by hosting both our Indian Ocean and Delhi Dialogues back-to-back. As the theme of the Indian Ocean Dialogue suggests, there is perhaps a sense of an "expanded” geography to this event.
However, if we were to look back through history, it would be evident that the notion of a shared maritime space is not new to any of us. Over the centuries of recorded history, the nations of this shared Indo-Pacific maritime region have traded goods, ideas and services with each other. Not only have we left an imprint on each other through food, language and philosophy, our quest to develop connectivity between us has also been a driver of science, technology and innovation.
Indeed, we could reasonably argue that the artificial separation of this region during the Cold War has now declined, as a bipolar era of hostility has receded. This has allowed the seamlessness of the maritime domain to re-assert itself.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Excellencies,
Since your presence here underlines eloquently your interest in an Indo-Pacific that promotes tangible and mutually beneficial cooperation, open to all, it seems to me that these Dialogues should deliver recommendations and new ideas to make our partnership more relevant to our citizens. We can achieve this objective when we ensure that we prioritize action-oriented cooperation and meaningful programmes. I am hopeful therefore, that your discussions earlier today at the Indian Ocean Dialogue, and during the Delhi Dialogue tomorrow, will yield a rich harvest of ideas, plans and visions for the betterment of our region.
Once again, I thank each and every one of you for your presence in New Delhi today.
Thank you once again.