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Foreign secretary Masud referred to the joint statement between Bangladesh and France where a paragraph was included on the Indo-Pacific.

At the invitation of French president Emmanuel Macron, prime minister Sheikh Hasina paid an official visit to France earlier this month.

Bangladesh and France shared the same vision for a “free, open, peaceful, secure and inclusive” Indo-Pacific region, based on international law and with shared prosperity for all, according to the joint statement.

Taking note of the French and European strategies concerning the Indo-Pacific region, both parties agreed to work towards promoting regional peace and stability and to explore further opportunities for cooperation in maritime security and the blue economy.

Highlighting their commitment to fully observing the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as well as the peaceful settlement of disputes, refraining from any threat or use of force, they stated the importance of maintaining security and freedom of navigation and overflight in all seas and oceans.

Foreign secretary Masud Momen said some countries have taken some initiatives on the Indo-Pacific Strategy and these countries are sharing their policy separately.

He named the European Union, the US position and of some countries in the EU.

The foreign secretary said it is likely to be difficult to get a position from an organisation like IORA while it is relatively easy for a country.

He said the member countries of IORA will be able to share their ideas and it will be discussed elaborately at the next meeting to be held in July next year.

Responding to a question, Maritime Affairs Unit (MAU) secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rear Admiral (Retd.) Md Khurshed Alam said Indo-Pacific Strategy is still an evolving issue and it is not clear as yet.

While talking to news agency UNB recently, ambassador and Head of Delegation of the EU to Bangladesh, Charles Whiteley, said the growth is happening in the region and it is a vast area.

“The Indo-Pacific Strategy really ties in well with our new priorities to Bangladesh. There’s an opportunity to inject more energy into the Bangladesh-EU relationship,” he said, highlighting the importance of connectivity, green transition, free trade and people to people link.

A joint communiqué on the “EU Strategy” for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific has been adopted recently, saying the European Union is stepping up its strategic engagement with the Indo-Pacific region as the region is increasing in strategic importance for Europe.

The EU thinks the future of the EU and the Indo-Pacific region is interlinked. The EU is already the top investor, the leading development cooperation partner and one of the biggest trading partners in the Indo-Pacific region.

Ambassador Whiteley said they will be deeply engaging in renewable energy, regional energy and will help the transformation of Bangladesh energy system.

He said there is a lot of energy behind the relationship with development cooperation and trade benefits are there in place.

Bangladesh assumed the chairmanship of IORA for the next two years with the theme ‘Harnessing the opportunities of the Indian Ocean sustainability for inclusive development’.

“This event has been very special to Bangladesh,” said the foreign minister while briefing newspersons on the outcome of the 21st Meeting of the Council of Ministers (COM) held in a city hotel on Wednesday evening.

The theme selected by Bangladesh was “profusely appreciated” by the member countries and the dialogue partners of the IORA, he said.

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