Nov 06, Colombo: The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) held its 20th Committee of Senior Officials and 18th Council of Ministers sessions from 31 October to 2 November 2018 in Durban, South Africa on the theme: Uniting the people of Africa, Asia, Australia and the Middle East through enhanced cooperation for peace, stability and sustainable development.
In the country statement to the Council of Ministers, Sri Lanka's head of delegation, Saroja Sirisena, Director General of Economic Affairs (Multilateral) of the Foreign Ministry highlighted the importance Sri Lanka places on regional cooperation and the sustainable use of the oceans.
Sri Lanka called for cooperative arrangements to be put in place towards realizing tangible results enabling the people of the region to grow together. Sri Lanka also emphasized the need to increase intra-regional trade and investment. It was also stated that in economic, strategic and environmental terms the Indian Ocean is poised to shape the planet in the 21st Century and Sri Lanka stands ready to play its role.
The report on the initial workshop to formulate the Terms of Reference for the Working Group on Maritime Safety and Security was presented to the IORA CSO. The IORA Ministers welcomed Sri Lanka's efforts and progress made as the lead coordinator in the Maritime Safety and Security pillar and also the offer to host the first meeting of the Working Group in 2019.
The Ministerial Meeting was chaired by the Minister for International Relations & Cooperation of South Africa Lindiwe Sisulu. In addition to the 21 Members States of IORA, the 7 Dialogue Partners comprising China, Egypt, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America participated at the session.
As the Ministerial meeting coincided with the centenary of the birth of the legendary South African leader Nelson Mandela, a special commemorative declaration was adopted by the IORA Ministers.
Counsellor of the Sri Lanka High Commission in Pretoria Ms. Priyangani Hewarathna was part of the Sri Lanka delegation.