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Sri Lanka reiterates commitment to achieve IORA objectives

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Officials of the Indian Ocean Rim Association’s (IORA) Member States gathered in Colombo for the 25th Meeting of the IORA Committee of Senior Officials. The two-day meeting from 9-10 October 2023 was chaired by Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardane.

Senior level participants from the twenty-three (23) IORA Member States of Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, France, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen attended the meeting.

There was an Interactive Dialogue between Senior Officials of the Member States and Dialogue Partners of China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Türkiye, the United Kingdom and the United States of America on the second day of the meeting to review the future plans with IORA.

In her opening remarks, Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardane welcomed the delegates representing the membership of the IORA family and its Dialogue Partners and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as the newest Dialogue Partner of IORA.

She thanked Bangladesh for its leadership of the Association for the past two years and congratulated India for assuming the role of the Vice Chair of the Association.  Foreign Secretary Wijewardane appreciated the commitment of all Member States to make IORA a vibrant organization and the efforts made by them to strengthen the IORA as a platform to address issues of common importance.

Noting that Sri Lanka was assuming leadership of IORA after two decades, having previously held the Chairmanship from 2003 to 2004, she emphasized that Sri Lanka accords a great deal of importance to the Indian Ocean.  She reiterated Sri Lanka’s commitment to continue to work closely with all Member States of IORA and other partners including the Dialogue Partners for achieving the objectives of IORA.

She also noted that the theme, ‘Strengthening Regional Architecture: Reinforcing Indian Ocean Identity’ chosen by Sri Lanka for its chairmanship reflects the country’s deep understanding of the pivotal role that the Indian Ocean plays in shaping the region’s identity and destiny. It serves as a reminder that, despite their differences, the IORA Member States are bound by the waters of the Indian Ocean, which have nurtured their societies, peoples and economies for centuries.

IORA Secretary General Dr Salman Al Farisi, Joint Secretary (Oceania) of the Ministry of External Affairs of India Paramita Tripathi representing the Vice Chair of IORA, Secretary, Maritime Affairs Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh Rear Admiral (Retd.) Md. Khurshed Alam representing the IORA Past Chair also delivered remarks at the opening session of the Senior Officials’ Committee Meeting.

The senior officials made recommendations including regarding the adoption of the Colombo Communiqué, which is the outcome document, to the 23rd Council of Ministers of IORA which will meet on 11 October 2023 in Colombo.

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