Senior Naval officials from India, Pakistan and a top defence official from the United States are among the participants at the Galle Dialogue, a strategic initiative aimed at discussing emerging maritime threats in the Indian Ocean region. The two-day meet begins on Monday.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia Robert Scher will speak on November 14, to present the U.S. perspectives on security in the Indian Ocean. While in Galle, Mr. Scher will meet with Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development Gotabaya Rajapaksa and other Government of Sri Lanka officials.

Mr. Scher is expected to highlight the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean, discuss opportunities for defence cooperation in the areas of de-mining, maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response and reiterate the U.S. Government's commitment to upholding international human rights standards for all countries, a release from the U.S. Embassy here said.

The United States-inspired dialogue has so far focussed on piracy alone in the Ocean. Defence experts and officials in the region are of the opinion that an annual dialogue of this nature has to include other threats as well, and, in that sense, expand its mandate to look comprehensively at security in the region.

The U.S. says that it remains committed to the region. “The U.S. Navy routinely operates in the Indian Ocean, conducting maritime security operations, and being poised to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The U.S. recognizes the importance of multilateral approaches to promoting security in the Indian Ocean and aims to expand cooperation with regional partners. The Galle Dialogue presents a welcome opportunity for countries in the region to discuss new opportunities for cooperation,” the release said.

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