From August 31 to September 1, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs and Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Alice Wells participated in the second annual Indian Ocean Conference hosted by the India Foundation and the Government of Sri Lanka in Colombo. The 2017 Indian Ocean Conference was an opportunity for nations from throughout the Indo-Pacific to come together and discuss ways to achieve greater peace, progress, and prosperity in the Indian Ocean region. Given that more than two-thirds of the world’s maritime oil and nearly half of the world’s container traffic are transported through the Indian Ocean region, economic progress and stability in the region were key themes. Ambassador Wells served as a panelist for the plenary session on peace alongside the Australian Foreign Secretary, the Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary, the Bangladeshi Foreign Secretary, the German Director General of the Foreign Office, and the Kenyan Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In her remarks to the conference, Ambassador Wells highlighted the United States’ partnerships and shared strategic interests in the Indian Ocean region. Ambassador Wells stated, “Our partnerships and shared strategic interests in this region remain as compelling as ever. In order to realize our shared goal of an Indian Ocean region that is open, principled, and resilient, we will need a robust regional framework for bilateral and multilateral cooperation – one in which all states have a say and are invested in decision-making and outcomes.”
Ambassador Wells also emphasized the United States’ “enduring commitment to this region and our shared goals of promoting peace, security, freedom of navigation, and sustainable open architecture across the Indian Ocean.” She encouraged countries to work together to enhance economic growth and connectivity, improve security capacity, and develop a strong regional framework for cooperation.
The 2017 Indian Ocean Conference served as yet another crucial step towards transparency, security, and economic success in the Indian Ocean region.
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