Jokowi, Modi pledge to uphold law of the sea

ceremonial reception for the Indonesian President at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, or presidential palace, in New Delhi yesterday. Beside them is Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.
Mr Modi welcoming Mr Joko and his wife Iriana during the ceremonial reception for the Indonesian President at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, or presidential palace, in New Delhi yesterday. Beside them is Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI • India and Indonesia yesterday affirmed their commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) and pledged greater maritime cooperation, as Asia's two largest democracies sought to counter China's rising influence in the region.

On his first visit to India, Indonesian President Joko Widodo met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, where both stressed the need for freedom of navigation rights and urged peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea.

"Both leaders committed to maintaining a maritime legal order based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos)," according to a joint statement issued after the meeting.

The statement added that the two sides emphasised the need to adhere to universally recognised principles of international law.

"Both leaders recognised that India and Indonesia share common interests in ensuring maritime security and the safety of sea lines of communication," said the joint statement.

"Both leaders recognised the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight on the high seas, unimpeded lawful commerce, as well as resolving maritime disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the Unclos," it added.

Mr Joko and Mr Modi also agreed to step up security dialogue and increase joint exercises. "As strategic partners and maritime neighbours, the two leaders emphasised the importance of further consolidating the security and defence cooperation," said the joint statement.

In addition, the two leaders also affirmed the need to combat illegal unregulated and unreported fishing. "Both leaders recognised transnational organised fisheries crime as one of the emerging crimes, which has become an ever-growing threat to the world," said the joint statement.

They agreed to conclude a memorandum of understanding on maritime cooperation between Indonesia and India in order to accelerate maritime cooperation in areas of safety and security, and the promotion of maritime industries, as one of the important pillars of the bilateral relationship.

China is at loggerheads with some South-east Asian nations, including Indonesia, over its claim to large swathes of the South China Sea.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2016, with the headline 'Jokowi, Modi pledge to uphold law of the sea'. Print Edition | Subscribe