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International maritime conference to begin from Mar 20

Strengthening maritime security and trade among Indian Ocean rim countries will be the focus of a 3-day international conference to be inaugurated by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj here on March 20.

The conference 'India and the Indian Ocean: Renewing Maritime Trade & Civilisational Linkages' would be attended by over 200 delegates from 20 nations and supported by eight Union ministries, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who is chief patron of the event, told reporters today.

USA and China have evinced interest in sending their representatives to the meet as observers, he said.

Apart from maritime safety and security, trade and industrial facilitation, the meet would also focus on fisheries management, disaster risk management, academic, science and technology, tourism and culture and gender empowerment, said chairman of the event's reception committee Haraprasad Das.

The conference, being organised by Institute of Social and Cultural Studies jointly with Research and Information System for Developing Countries, is supported by External Affairs, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Power, Shipping, Commerce and Industry, Culture, Tourism and Agriculture ministries, Das and Pradhan said.

Representatives from Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Thailand, Mauritius, Indonesia, Malaysia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Madagascar, Singapore, Yemen, Oman, Iran, and Cambodia are expected to attend the conference, they said.

Swaraj is slated to inaugurate the meet, while Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is scheduled to be present at the valedictory session on the concluding day.

Union Tourism and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma is also likely to attend the conference, the organisers said.

Other dignitaries at the event include National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and secretary general of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Ambassador K V Bhagirath.

The conference will provide an opportunity to study and analyse Indian Ocean countries from all aspects - historical, economical, geo-political, cultural, energy security, religion, literature, trade, migration, diaspora and rejuvenate the ties that bind the nations, ISCS secretary Arindam Mukherjee said.

The event will be marked by release of a postal stamp on 'Indian Ocean and Rajendra Chola I', commemorating the occasion and the glorious past.