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NEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday called for the removal of barriers on sea trade, the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes and a joint fight against threats from maritime disasters and non state actors as part of five point agenda to promote maritime cooperation among countries.

Addressing the UN Security Council High Level Open Debate on “Enhancing Maritime Security," one of three flagship events that India is holding during its UNSC presidency in August, Modi also called for the creation of a framework under the aegis of the UN to coordinate maritime cooperation among countries.

Modi is the first Indian prime minister to chair a meeting of the UNSC that saw high level participation from other countries – Russian president Vladimir Putin, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken were among those who addressed the session.

In his remarks, Modi said that India had put forward the vision of SAGAR – Security and Growth for All – which he said was an “inclusive" idea of maritime security.

Stressing the importance of open sea lanes of communication, Modi said: “We must remove barriers to legitimate maritime trade. Our prosperity is linked to the smooth flow of trade. Any impediment (to global trade) can challenge the global economy."

The prime minister also referred to problems thrown up by natural calamities and non state actors stating that countries needed to come together to take on these issues. Stating that oceans have a direct impact on climate, he stressed on the need to protect the maritime environment from plastic pollution and oils spills.

Urging the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes, Modi said this was important to create trust and build confidence among nations. He pointed to the resolution of the maritime boundary dispute between India and Bangladesh in 2014 after New Delhi accepted the UN Tribunal order on the matter.

In his address, Modi also said that countries needed to work on what he described as responsible maritime connectivity. Acknowledging the need for infrastructure to strengthen maritime trade, Modi however said that the infrastructure developed should be fiscally sustainable and match the absorption capacity of the countries involved.

Though he did not mention China by name even once, Modi’s references to peaceful resolution of maritime disputes and creation of responsible maritime connectivity infrastructure were seen as aimed at Beijing.

Modi’s reference to peaceful resolution of disputes was echoed by Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“Violation of international law, even the threat of the use of force affects peace and security," Chinh said. “Vietnam is determined to work with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and China to …negotiate an effective Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea," he added. China claims most of the South China Sea but Vietnam and other countries in the region also claim the waters, seen as one of the world’s busiest trade corridors.

In his remarks, Blinken pointed out that the international community for long had benefitted from a rules based international maritime order. Freedom of navigation, overflight and the unimpeded flow of maritime trade was “critical" to the prosperity of nations, he said.

The rules based maritime order was under threat, Blinken warned adding that in the South China Sea, “we have seen dangerous encounters between vessels at sea and provocative actions to advance unlawful maritime claims."

In his comments, Blinken also referred to an attack on an oil tanker in the Arabian Sea, blaming Iran for the incident. He also called out Russia’s actions in the Black Sea vis a vis Ukraine.

Speakers from Africa and South America highlighted their concerns on piracy, the trafficking of people and smuggling of drugs.

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