Bangladesh bats for ‘open, inclusive’ Indian Ocean ahead of IORA meeting in Dhaka

Bangladesh wants to see an “open, free, peaceful and inclusive” Indian Ocean, instead of being dominated by any single country, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said, adding many countries have different types of interests in the region

Nov 15, 2021
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IORA meeting in Dhaka (Photo: Facebook)

Bangladesh wants to see an “open, free, peaceful and inclusive” Indian Ocean, instead of being dominated by any single country, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said, adding many countries have different types of interests in the region.  “Indian Ocean is a huge issue. We don’t want to see any unilateral dominance in the Indian Ocean,” Momin was quoted as saying by Dhaka Tribune newspaper on Sunday as India, China, and other powers seek to dominate the crucial waterway. 

Significantly, the remark came days before the 21st meeting of the Council of Ministers  (COMs) of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), scheduled to take place in Dhaka on Wednesday. Bangladesh, which takes up the IORA chairmanship for the first time in 24 years, is hosting the meeting. 

Momin said IORA has six priorities and two focus areas for the basis to promote sustained growth and balanced development in the Indian Ocean Region. "Indo-Pacific Vision" will also come up for discussion, he added. 

Among the issues to be discussed in the meeting 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. 

Twelves ministers from eleven countries will be joining the IORA COM in person. 

“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,” Momin said. 

Through the IORA event, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said they have got an opportunity to demonstrate that Bangladesh has been able to bring the Covid situation under control.

Bangladesh also intends to share its expertise with other countries in some areas like aquaculture and disaster management and learn from other member states’ experiences too. 

Many now look at Bangladesh as a model in disaster management, the foreign minister said, adding, “Partnership is more important than ever after we face Covid-19.”

The ministers' meeting will be preceded by the 23rd CSO meeting taking stock of the association's progress, and endorsing the next IORA’s Action Plan (2022-2027).

Meanwhile, a strategic dialogue on the impact of Covid-19 and perspectives of economic recovery in the Indian Ocean Region will be held on November 17.

(SAM)