Iran relents, US now partner of Indian Ocean association

The US became a dialogue partner of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation on Friday, with Iran relenting to its entry into the 20-member organisation, to the surprise of many.

Tehran, which signed the Gurgaon communiqué, only made a perfunctory remark about the US, saying it was being allowed into the largely economic organisation although it had placed "economic sanctions on Iran". This was conveyed by Iran at the senior officials' meeting on Thursday, though they did not raise the issue at the ministerial meeting.

Finally, the US was allowed as a dialogue partner by consensus.

The IOR-ARC now has six dialogue partners, including China. It also admitted Comoros, taking the total number of members to 20.

The association, now in its 15th year, also decided to give itself a new name as the present once was considered a tongue-twister of sorts.

India proposed an Indian Ocean university that could be an inter-disciplinary institution. Khurshid said that the idea had been put on the table, and any country could follow through.

"We will be willing to give any assistance," Khurshid said.

The Gurgaon communiqué also talked about piracy as an "increasingly serious concern" in the Indian Ocean region.

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