The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), a regional forum of maritime forces formed at the insistence of the Indian Navy, will open up in phases to more members and accord observer status to some others once its charter of business is firmed up, probably at its meeting in Australia next month.
Even some developed nations have requested membership and inclusion as observers, the Naval Chief, Admiral D.K. Joshi, said at a brief interaction with The Hindu on the sidelines of the multilateral naval engagement, Milan, that got under way here on Wednesday with the participation of 16 friendly navies.
While both IONS and Milan grew substantially over the years, the Indian Navy looked at Milan as complementary to IONS with a limited charter and mandate. “This was why it was more seminar-oriented, with very little exercise. We wanted it to be a meeting of minds for benign tasks like humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” he said.
Admiral Joshi said Milan was conceived as a forum of the navies in the Bay of Bengal rim but with every subsequent edition, more requests for inclusion came in.