IORA held its first Council of Ministers virtually, welcoming its 22 Member States and 10 Dialogue Partners, to discuss ways in coordinating efforts to achieve IORA’s vision for a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indian Ocean region as outlined in the Jakarta Concord and IORA Action Plan. The meeting was chaired by His Excellency Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh  UAE Minister of State and as a representative of the IORA presidency for the two-year period 2019/2021.

Multiple issues were addressed including:

– agreement to include the French Republic as the IORA’s 23rd Member State, based on Réunion Island only;

– welcoming increasing engagements with China, France, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States of America;

– welcoming ongoing work to establish the IORA Human Development Fund, aimed towards closing the region’s human development gaps;

– welcoming Sri Lanka as the incoming Vice-Chair of IORA for the period 2021-23.

Furthermore, it was decided that Sri Lanka, at the end of its mandate as vice president of the IORA Council of Ministers, will assume the office of President for the following two years (2023/25). At the end of the works, Sri Lanka’s  Foreign Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena, said “Sri Lanka as the Coordinator of the IORA Working Group on Maritime Safety and Security has dedicated its efforts to ensuring that there is greater connectivity via knowledge and experience-sharing through the Work Plan adopted at the Working Group Meeting held in Colombo in August 2019″. He also said that Sri Lanka was expected to host an IORA blue economy conference in the second half of 2021 and to undertake a study on identifying bottlenecks to maritime trade in the IORA region. (Source: IORA)