Dhaka, May 12 (PTI) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday said that the resilient future of the nations along the Indian ocean coastlines require respect and mutual trust among them, stressing that her nation was committed to playing its role for peace in the region.
Opening the two-day 6th Indian Ocean Conference (IOC) here in the Bangladeshi capital, Hasina said that Indian ocean held significant importance for not only Bangladesh, but for all the countries in the region due to its geographical position.
"We remain committed to playing our role for peace in the region, and expect all other countries to do the same to ensure a resilient future," she said during the conference, which is being organised by Bangladesh's Foreign Ministry along with India Foundation, a think tank based out of New Delhi.
Hasina said the Indian Ocean held significant importance for not only Bangladesh, but for all the countries in the region due to its geographical position that prompted Dhaka to formulate recently its Indo-Pacific Outlook.
She said being a littoral state Bangladesh had been a hub of maritime activities for centuries and it is active in many regional platforms.
Mauritius president Prithvirajsing Roopun, minister-level delegations from 25 countries and representatives from different other regional groupings like Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) joined the meet where India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar delivered the key-note speech.
Despite being a littoral state of the Indian Ocean Myanmar was not invited to the conference visibly due to Bangladesh’s strained ties with Naypyidaw over the Rohingya crisis.
Hasina said Bangladesh provided temporary shelter to more than 1.1 million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals despite its own many challenges as the ethnic minority Muslim population took makeshift refuge in the neighbouring country to evade persecution in their homeland.
"This gesture avoided a major humanitarian catastrophe in the region. Now, we seek active support of the global community to repatriate the Rohingya people to their homeland in a safe and sustainable manner," she said.
The Bangladesh premier called for promoting “culture of peace” and people centric development in the region ensuring just and inclusive societies in the region.
She said the countries in the Indian Ocean region should foster "Maritime Diplomacy" for their prosperous future, stressing that the region’s climate vulnerability demanded their enhanced mutual cooperation.
Hasina the region was required to promote open, transparent, rules-based multilateral systems that facilitate equitable and sustainable development in the region and beyond through inclusive economic growth.
Bangladesh is the current Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association and President of Council of the International Seabed Authority.