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Philippines-India Dialogue On Maritime Issues In The Works


Philippines-India Dialogue On Maritime Issues In The Works


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The Philippines and India have agreed to accelerate maritime cooperation and hold an inaugural dialogue soon, which will cover potential partnerships from marine environment protection down to security.

The Track 1 or government-to-government maritime dialogue was formally announced by Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo after his bilateral meeting with visiting Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyan Jaishankar on Tuesday.

“Our cooperation is growing in the sense that not only are we pursuing newer activities, such as training and joint committee meetings, but also exploring other ways where we can contribute to the security of both our countries as well as to ensure that the Indo-Pacific region remains open and peaceful, and is a region of peace and development,” he said in a joint press conference at Sofitel Manila.

Manalo said Manila also hopes to collaborate with New Delhi on ensuring the safety of Indian and Filipino seafarers, especially those manning the merchant vessels plying the Red Sea.

No specific timeline has been set yet, but Manalo said the inaugural dialogue will take place in Manila.

Jaishankar, for his part, emphasized India’s readiness to build on its existing maritime partnerships with Manila.

“There’s a lot of work to be done here —there’s environmental work, there’s ecological work, there’s security work,” he said.

“At the end of the day, every country has the right to uphold and enforce its national sovereignty and I think that is something that we have also discussed,” he added.

The upcoming talks follow the Track 2 or informal dialogue among Filipino and Indian maritime stakeholders in September last year, which laid out potential areas for India-Philippine collaboration, including on maritime domain awareness, shipping and seafaring, search and rescue, law enforcement, and environmental protection, among others.


‘Samudra Paheredar’

Also on Tuesday, Jaishankar hosted Filipino government officials on board the Indian Coast Guard Ship Samudra Paheredar, currently docked in Manila to enhance cooperation on coast guard functions and maritime pollution response with the country.

The Indian top diplomat said this visit alone shows India’s commitment to work with Manila on marine environment protection as well as search and rescue.

In a speech, he said Manila and New Delhi share a number of maritime challenges not only on these domains but also on illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

“Like-minded countries of the Indo-Pacific should be doing more with each other,” he added.

On top of maritime, India and the Philippines continue to bolster ties on defense, development, agriculture, food security, affordable healthcare, and infrastructure.

Manalo said the Philippines is also keen to begin closer cooperation with India on science and technology, space and financial technology, particularly on financial inclusivity.

On tourism, he said Manila is planning to launch the e-visa system for Indian nationals “in the very near future”. (PNA)