Saturday, October 3, 2009

Abu Dhabi to host Indian Ocean naval meet in March

New Delhi: The next Indian Navy-initiated Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), a pan-Asian maritime security forum, comprising 26 littoral countries of the Indian Ocean, will take place in Abu Dhabi, UAE in March 2010.
“The UAE will be the next chairman of the IONS—thus validating its existence as a pan-Asian security forum and rubbishing Pakistan’s argument terming it as a grouping against the Islamic world,” senior Naval officers told FE. Interestingly, there is no Indian defence attaché posted in UAE, but the one posted in Muscat, Oman is accredited to UAE.
According to a former naval officer, Ranjit Rai, vice-president Indian Maritime Foundation and an independence defence analyst, “The UAE, which is expanding its Navy, is keen to host the symposium in 2010, as they want to protect their interest in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. The countries of Oman, Iran, and the UAE border the straits and each plays a large part in fostering a secure environment around the Straits.”
“Currently discussions are underway in Mombasa, where decisions to shift the IONS Secretariat to Abu Dhabi, and the agenda for the March symposium will be taken,” said officials. Acknowledging the fact that Middle Eastern nations taking a bigger defence market share, it seemed appropriate to hand over the chairmanship to UAE, although South Africa was short listed too, informed sources.
Earlier this year, under a contract announced by the UAE Armed Forces, Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB) is to build 12 new vessels for the UAE Navy and retrofit 12 existing vessels. The Emirates accounted for 6% of the world’s arms imports between 2004 and 2008, according to the new report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the same proportion as South Korea. China and India had 11 and 7% respectively. 

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