The ministerial meeting was chaired by Indian Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid. Some 200 delegates representing 20 countries participated, among whom eight Foreign Affairs ministers. The Mauritian delegation was led by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs (SFA), Mr A. P. Neewoor.
The theme for the Meeting was IORARC at 15 – the Next Decade. The objective was to lay down a roadmap and agenda for the Association for the coming years that will eventually establish IOR-ARC as an apex organisation for the Indian Ocean region.
In his address at the second open session, Mr Khurshid pointed out that IOR-ARC has helped promote understanding and cooperation amongst our countries since 1997, yet immense untapped potential remains.
‘Our region is characterised by great diversities in size, population and levels of development, recalled Mr Khurshid, adding that a prospective roadmap for the Association must therefore be inclusive, taking IOR-ARC forward at a pace acceptable to all’ the Indian External Affairs Minister said.
As it is, over the last year, a number of useful cooperation initiatives have been implemented in each of the six priority areas identified for IOR-ARC at the 11th COM meeting held last year in Bengaluru, namely Maritime Safety and Security; Trade and Investment Facilitation; Fisheries Management and Sustainable Harvesting of Marine Food Resources; Disaster Risk Reduction; Academic and Science and Technology Cooperation; and Tourism Promotion and Cultural Exchanges.
For his part, the SFA, Mr A. P. Neewoor, said that the COM was a privileged platform to take stock of the achievements of IOR-ARC and reflect on the experiences and the challenges that lie ahead. He expressed his confidence that the 12th COM Meeting would come up with constructive decisions for the future direction of the Association and prioritise actions. The SFA also elaborated on the Association’s importance which he said ‘incorporates the concept of South-South cooperation about which we speak often but do little about’.
‘India is the economic power-house and Asia is the economic power-house of today and tomorrow and the new economic frontier is now Africa after Asia, and here we have got the two continents coming together in an initiative to try to work out an agenda for cooperation. It is quite opportune at this point to deliberate on how we shall deliver on that account’, observed the SFA.
The 12th IOR-ARC COM meeting included two open sessions, a closed session and a concluding session wherein the Gurgaon Communiqué was adopted.
It is recalled that the IORARC turned 15 this year. Over the years, the Association has helped build and expand understanding and mutually beneficial cooperation, and facilitated the creation of a regional climate conducive to peace and prosperity.