India has long and distinguished maritime tradition whose civilisational imprint is still visible in the region: Jaishankar

India has a long and distinguished maritime tradition whose civilisational imprint is still visible in this region, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday as he hailed the docking of an Indian Coast Guard ship here signified the deepening of bilateral ties with Manila.

Jaishankar, who is in the Philippines on the second leg of his three-nation tour, made the remarks during his visit to the Indian Coast Guard Ship ‘Samudra Paheredar’ during the vessel’s port call to Manila.

Separately, the minister met with Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and discussed strengthening bilateral defence partnership.

“A good conversation with Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro of the Philippines. Discussed strengthening our defense partnership, reflecting our shared interests and many convergences in the Indo-Pacific,” he said in a post on X.

He added that he was looking forward to enhancing capabilities, intensifying exchanges and closer contacts.

During his visit to Indian Coast Guard ship Samudra Paheredar, Jaishankar said his visit and the ship’s presence signifies the deepening India-Philippines relations.

“India has a long and distinguished maritime tradition, whose civilisational imprint is still visible in this region. Today, our Act East policy and the Indo-Pacific Vision have given it a more contemporary form,” the minister said.

He said that another noteworthy development is the Indo-Pacific maritime domain awareness initiative of which both countries are members that is aimed at fostering cooperation on a wide range of maritime activities and issues.

“Our collaboration with ASEAN is a vital aspect of those endeavours… We have also seen the commencement of ASEAN-India maritime exercises. As seafaring nations, this is a strong bilateral bond between us,” he said.

He said that the ship’s presence in Manila happens to coincide with his own bilateral visit. And each, in their own way, signifies a deepening partnership, he added.

“The cooperation between the Coast Guards of our two nations was facilitated by an understanding of enhanced maritime cooperation that was reached last year,” he said, adding that he was glad to note that specialised training courses in India have commenced.

“We value the presence of the Philippines in the search and rescue and pollution response exercises which have been conducted by the Indian Coast Guard. The visit of this pollution control vessel to the Philippines is significant because it highlights the shared challenges that we face in that domain,” he said.

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

“May it promote greater cooperation between our countries and may promote greater cooperation within the region and may it instill a greater sense of maritime interest and responsibility, particularly in the younger generations,” he added.

He said he was glad to see that the ship carries the cadets of the National Cadet Corps, recalling that he was part of the NCC during his college days.

As part of an overseas exchange programme, the NCC cadets, in coordination with ICG ship crew, partner agencies personnel, Indian embassy or mission staff, and local youth organisations will undertake beach clean-up and similar activities during the port call of the ship. The ICG ship arrived at Manila Bay on March 25 on a three-day visit.

The ship is equipped with specialised marine pollution control equipment and a Chetak Helicopter in pollution response configuration, designed to contain, and recover spilled oil and augment the operation.

The defence ministry in New Delhi said the ICG ship is on an overseas deployment to ASEAN countries – the Philippines, Vietnam, and Brunei – from March 25 to April 12.

“The visit of a specialised Pollution Control Vessels is part of a broader initiative aimed at demonstration of ICG’s marine pollution response capabilities and shared concern and resolve towards marine pollution in the ASEAN region, besides bolstering bilateral cooperation with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG),” it said.

“The deployment is the third in a row by the Indian Coast Guard to ASEAN countries. Earlier in the year 2023, ICG Pollution Control Vessels visited Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia as part of the initiative,” it said.

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