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The ‘Indian Ocean Naval Symposium’ (IONS) is a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime co-operation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing an open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues. In the process, it endeavours to generate a flow of information between naval professionals that would lead to common understanding and possibly cooperative solutions on the way ahead.
That the launch of so important a regional initiative was able to meet with such wide acceptance across the length and breadth of the Indian Ocean was in itself a unique phenomenon. There are 35 members - navies of the IONS which have been geographically grouped into the following four sub-regions:-
South Asian Littorals - Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Seychelles and Sri Lanka
West Asian Littorals - Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen
East African Littorals - Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eriteria, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan and Tanzania
South East Asian and Australian Littorals - Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Timor Leste
The inaugural IONS-2008 was held in New Delhi, India on 14 Feb 08. CNS, Indian Navy was designated the Chairman IONS for the period 2008-10. A ‘Charter of Business’ was mutually agreed to by the Chiefs of the member-navies, which has been forwarded to all the member navies for ratification. The theme of the IONS-2008 was “Contemporary Trans-national Challenges – International Maritime Connectivities”.
The 2nd edition i.e. IONS-2010 was held in Abu-Dhabi from 10 to 11 May 2010, wherein the baton of IONS Chairmanship was handed over to the Commander, UAE Navy. The theme of IONS-2010 was "Together for the Reinforcement of Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean".