US move to ‘friend’ Indian Ocean nationsPosted: 29/10/2012
The IISS’s Suvi Dogra has a piece in the Financial Express today looking at the United States’ wish for closer engagement with countries around the Indian Ocean. She reports that Washington has asked to become more closely involved with the 19-member Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation (IOR-ARC). The move seems to be part of the US’ renewed engagement with Asia and the Indian Ocean, but it also underlines the IOC-ARC’s growing relevance in the region, where it could play a key role not only in trade and economic cooperation, but in security matters.
The IOR-ARC, launched in 1997 as an international organisation focusing on regional trade cooperation and development, began its 12th Council of Ministers meeting today in Gurgaon, India, where it will consider the US request, among other issues such as trade in the food processing industry and piracy in the Indian Ocean.
The US’ request to become a ‘dialogue partner’ is likely to be approved, even though Iran is part of the association and is expected to oppose it. News reports suggest that India welcomes the move, while the US will find strong endorsements for its request from African member states, as well as from other Indian Ocean states such as Australia, Singapore and Indonesia. The IOR-ARC already has five dialogue partners – China, Japan, Egypt, France and the UK – who sit in on open discussions but are not part of the body’s decision-making.
Read the full article.