IORA, Indian Ocean multilateral groups need to cooperate in addressing issues: Report

The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and other multilateral groupings in the Indian Ocean region need to set up separate agendas and not overlap their efforts in addressing the same issues, a London-based research fellow has said.
The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)
The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)

Singapore | The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and other multilateral groupings in the Indian Ocean region need to set up separate agendas and not overlap their efforts in addressing the same issues, a London-based research fellow has said.

“There needs to be cooperation within each of these organisations and not overlap by working on the same issues,” Viraj Solanki, the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) Research Fellow for South and Central Asia Defence, Strategy and Diplomacy, said here on Friday.

“Can they figure out slightly separate agendas so that each group realises its full potential – compliments each other,” Solanki told PTI.

"IORA and other similar Indian Ocean groupings -- such as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium and the Indian Ocean Commission -- are working on several similar issues related to security but working in cellos and not cooperating,” he observed.

India, says Solanki, also needs to rebuild its relationships with Maldives which is moving towards China following differences with New Delhi.

He also noted Maldives' decision not to renew a 2019 hydrographic survey agreement.

Solanki opined as a good move the meeting between Maldives Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer and Minister of External Affairs Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi earlier this month where regional security issues and bilateral relations were discussed.

This comes after the Maldives were absent from the Columbo Security Conclave while the country's Vice President Hussain Mohamed Latheef visited China.

“This signalled that the Maldivian government elected in September 2023 wanted to engage with China more closely than with India,” said an IISS report, “Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment (APRSA)”, which was launched here on Friday.

“There should be more building of trust between India and Maldives for both nations to continue working on IORA as well as other multilateral regional programmes,” said Solanki.

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