India seeks structural changes in IOR-ARC

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Dubai, May 4 (UNI) India today said despite a decade-long existence of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), not much progress has been made in terms of concrete projects and the character of the organisation needs to be reviewed.

Addressing the 8th meeting of the Council of Ministers of the IOR-ARC in Tehran, Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed said, ''It is time that the character of the organisation could be given a re-look for bringing out structural reform in order to move the IOR-ARC actively forward, in view of lack of progress in concrete projects.'' He added that concrete shape and direction needed to be given to the grouping.

The Minister said even though the prime focus of the grouping was to develop trade and economic cooperation, it should not try to replicate the efforts of other fora engaged in trade and economic faciliatation.

''Areas of common interest that bind the Indian Ocean Rim countries, such as ocean bed exploration, hydrographic survey, disaster management and information sharing, shipping, coastal infrastructure, fisheries, weather forecasting, should be given priority,'' he added.

Mr Ahamed reiterated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's announcement during the Indo-Africa Summit held in New Delhi in April, to extend Duty Free Tariff Preferences Scheme for Least Developed Countries, including some IOR-ARC member countries.

He thanked the member countries for participating in the first IOR-ARC film festival in February-March in New Delhi and the India International Trade Fair in November last year.

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