Terming the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers (COM) meeting as “excellent” Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Thursday said the member states have decided to work under partnership to check looting of marine resources from the Indian Ocean

Dhaka hosted the IORA’s Council of Ministers meeting.

“All will work under partnership to protect, promote and preserve the marine resources of the Indian Ocean,” he said at a press briefing after concluding the 22nd Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers (COM) meeting as the chair in the capital.

The minister said interaction among the IORA member states during the CMO session was excellent while the dialogue partners provided a number of suggestions to ensure a free and navigable Indian Ocean.   

Currently, Bangladesh is the chair of the inter-governmental organisation comprising 23 member states and 10 dialogue partners.

Dhaka is hosting ministerial level delegation from 16 member countries namely host Bangladesh, Australia, Comoros, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, the Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen and one dialogue partner from Japan at the meeting.

Besides, high-level delegations from other member states -- France, Iran, Kenya, Oman, Malaysia, Seychelles and Singapore and dialogue partners -- China, Egypt, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Russia, Turkey, the UK and the USA also attended the COM.

While proceeding over the meeting, Bangladesh foreign minister laid emphasis on realizing a regional trade agreement among states in the Indian Ocean region to untapped intra-IORA trade and investment potentials.

“The strengthening of economic relations among IORA member states through a regional trade agreement and the elimination of intra IORA trade and investment barriers are now more than ever important,” he said.

Momen said IORA has evolved into an important regional group of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean through sustained dialogue and cooperation and now is playing as a key driving force to ensure development, peace and stability in the region.

He said Bangladesh has always expressed unwavering commitments and pursued them religiously for the betterment of the people of this region. 

The IORA as an inter-governmental organisation was established on 7 March, 1997.

Bangladesh assumed the position of the IORA Chair at the 21st IORA COM meeting and adopted the theme of ‘Harnessing the opportunities of the Indian Ocean sustainably for inclusive development’ for its chairing period from 2021-2023.