Officials from the Member States of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) gathered in Colombo for the 25th Meeting of the IORA Committee of Senior Officials, a two-day event held on October 9-10. The meeting was skillfully chaired by Aruni Wijewardane, the Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka.
The event saw the participation of senior-level representatives from the twenty-three IORA Member States, which include Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, France, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Notably, this gathering also featured an Interactive Dialogue between the Senior Officials of the Member States and Dialogue Partners, including China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Türkiye, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardane extended a warm welcome to the delegates representing the diverse IORA family and its Dialogue Partners. She also acknowledged the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the newest Dialogue Partner of IORA. Wijewardane expressed her gratitude to Bangladesh for its leadership of the Association over the past two years and congratulated India on its assumption of the role as the Vice Chair of the Association.
Wijewardane commended the commitment of all Member States in making IORA a vibrant and effective organization, highlighting their efforts to strengthen IORA as a platform for addressing common challenges and opportunities.
With Sri Lanka assuming leadership of IORA after two decades, Wijewardane emphasized the nation’s deep appreciation of the Indian Ocean’s importance. She reaffirmed Sri Lanka’s commitment to collaborating closely with all Member States of IORA and other partners, including the Dialogue Partners, to achieve IORA’s objectives.
The theme chosen by Sri Lanka for its chairmanship, “Strengthening Regional Architecture: Reinforcing Indian Ocean Identity,” underlined the pivotal role of the Indian Ocean in shaping the region’s identity and destiny. It also emphasized the shared heritage of IORA Member States, bound together by the waters of the Indian Ocean that have enriched their societies, cultures, and economies for centuries.
During the opening session of the Senior Officials’ Committee Meeting, remarks were also delivered by IORA Secretary General Dr. Salman Al Farisi, Paramita Tripathi, Joint Secretary (Oceania) of the External Affairs Ministry of India representing the Vice Chair of IORA, and Rear Admiral (Retd.) Khurshed Alam, Secretary of the Maritime Affairs Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, representing the IORA Past Chair.