Thu, 20 Jan 2022

Dhaka [Bangladesh], November 14 (ANI): Bangladesh on Sunday called for an open, free, peaceful and inclusive Indian Ocean instead of any single country's dominance ahead of the upcoming Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers' (COM) meeting on November 17.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters at a media briefing at his ministry, "Indian Ocean is a huge issue. We don't want to see any unilateral dominance in the Indian Ocean," reported Dhaka Tribune.

Bangladesh will be hosting the 21st IORA COM meeting as it takes up the chairmanship for the first time in 24 years. "Indo-Pacific Vision" will also come up for discussion.

The Chairmanship of Bangladesh is to run from 2021-2023, with the new vice-chair, the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, and the United Arab Emirates now taking the position of the past chair.

IORA has six priority and two focus areas identified on the basis to promote sustained growth and balanced development in the Indian Ocean Region.

These are maritime safety and security, trade and investment facilitation, fisheries management, disaster risk management, tourism and cultural exchanges, academic, science and technology cooperation, blue economy, women's economic empowerment, reported Dhaka Tribune.

"We'll try to focus on those issues," Dr Momen said.

The 23rd Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) and its related meetings will be held on November 15-16 in a hybrid format (in-personvirtual).

The foreign minister said this is a great moment for Bangladesh and 12 ministers from 11 countries (two ministers from Tanzania) will be joining the IORA COM in person, reported Dhaka Tribune.

"Indian Ocean is very important for trading. It's also dangerous with some associated risks like cyclones, typhoons, tidal surges. So, it's an essential meeting," he added.

Dr Momen also said they are looking at the future through the ocean as there are many things to achieve together through partnership and dialogue.

A dozen ministers representing IORA countries, including the Minister for South Asia, the United Nations and the Commonwealth at the Foreign, CommonwealthDevelopment Office (FCDO) Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon will be visiting Bangladesh to attend the IORA event.

The IORA ministers will also meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during their stay in Dhaka. "We're working on that," said the foreign minister.

Foreign ministers of Sri Lanka, the Union of Comoros, Indonesia, South Africa and a Minister of Tanzania will also visit Bangladesh.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary Kelly Keiderling will also arrive on Tuesday, said an official, mentioning that the United States is an observer at the IORA, reported Dhaka Tribune.

The Indian Ocean Rim Association is an inter-governmental organization that was established on March 7, 1997.

The vision for IORA originated during a visit by late President Nelson Mandela of South Africa to India in 1995.

Promoting sustained growth and balanced development within the Indian Ocean region, IORA strengthens cooperation and dialogue with member states.

They are Australia, Bangladesh, Union of Comoros, French Republic, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. (ANI)

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