Norway PM calls India an 'Ocean country' as both nations agree to intensify engagement on Ocean Economy

File photo of Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Photograph:( Getty )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 08, 2019, 03.42 PM (IST) Siddhant Sibal

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Norwegian PM Erna Solberg on Tuesday held bilateral talks which focused on ocean economy, with Oslo appreciating New Delhi's role in global affairs being "the largest democracy." Both also exchanged one document on "India Norway Ocean Dialogue".

Calling India an "ocean country" Norway PM agreed to "intensify" cooperation with India on the "issues of the sea" while PM Modi said, "For India's development ocean economy is an important sector. 15% of Indian population stay in coastal districts and their lives are dependent on the ocean. We discussed it and will increase cooperation in it"

Norway PM's comments are important given the fact that India now sees its neighbourhood in respect to countries around the Indian ocean & not just countries bordering it on the landmass. Also, comes at a time when New Delhi is growing its focus on Indo Pacific concept.

PM invited Norwegian companies to invest in India especially in ports. He said, "Under Sagarmala projects, Norway companies can take part in shipbuilding and ports development in India"

Norway's PM lauding India's role said, "As the world's largest democracy, India plays an important role both regionally and globally. We had an open and constructive dialogue on how we can work together to protect and develop rules-based international order governance"

She added, "Its important that both big countries like India and smaller countries like Norway join forces to work for the benefit and talk about the benefits of multilateralism in a time  of increased protectionism."

Calling for reform of United Nations, Norway PM said, "Multilateralism is not just about trade and economy but also making international organisations function. For example through the reform of the UN. UN needs to reform.. they need to be representative as it looks today and not the way the world was seen in the 1940s."

The focus was also on sustainable development with Norway PM saying SDGs (Sustainable development Goals) arent achievable if India is not involved. She Invited PM Modi to visit Norway.

Recently, Norway government launched a new strategy for India to engage with New Delhi.

Earlier during the day after the ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhawan, Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg talked about "friendship and partnership" with India especially on "oceans and sustainable development and bilateral issues". She said, "I would like to thank Prime minister Modi for the warm welcome so far and impressive reception. Good tradition. We hope for good friendship and partnership with India on oceans and sustainable development and bilateral issues. I would like to say Thank you for the warm welcome and looking forward to the talks."

She later paid respects to father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat. At the visitors' book, she wrote," I am grateful for the opportunity to pay my respects to Mahatma Gandhi, 150 years after his birth. His efforts for peace and non-violence continue to resonate across the global."

She is the first foreign leader and head of government to visit New Delhi in 2019. On the 1st day, she addressed the Indian-Norwegian Business Summit & opened of the new "green" compound of Norwegian Embassy. 

PM Modi has met the Solberg twice. In 2017during her meet with PM Modi on the sidelines of G20 Summit in Hamburg Germany, she giftedPM Modi a football. The football had SDG-- sustainable development goal inscribed on it. The gesture was to symbolise attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Last year PM Modi met Norway PM during the maiden India Nordic summit in Stockholm on 17 April 2018.

Message for China?

The Norway PM was the chief guest at the inaugural session of Raisina Dialogue in which PM Modi also was present. 

Speaking at the session, Solberg lauded India for respecting laws of the sea and said, "when large countries respect rule small countries like us take note. The principle that might is right can't be used in governance". 

She said UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) provide a "legal framework" and rules-based order has served her country. The message won't be missed by China who has been embroiled in south china sea dispute with countries in south-east Asia. 

Story highlights

Norway PM's comments are important given the fact that India now sees its neighbourhood in respect to countries around the Indian ocean & not just countries bordering it on the landmass. Also, comes at a time when New Delhi is growing its focus on Indo Pacific concept.