Sri Lanka, India and Maldives agree to strengthen cooperation in dealing with maritime challenges
Agreement was reached on further strengthening cooperation in dealing with maritime challenges in the Indian ocean and ensure peace and security in the region for common benefit, at the trilateral 4th National Security Adviser level meeting on ‘Maritime Security Cooperation’, which concluded at the Colombo Hotel Taj Samudra on Saturday (28).
The sessions were held with the participation of Ajit Doval, National Security Adviser of India, Ms. Mariya Didi, Minister of Defence of Maldives and Maj. Gen. (retd) Kamal Gunaratne, Secretary to the Ministry of Defence.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dinesh Gunawardena, was the chief guest at the inauguration.
The High Commissioner of India, Ambassador for the Maldives, Foreign Ministry Secretary Admiral (retd) Prof. Jayanath Colombage, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff, Commander of the Army and Head of the National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID 19 Outbreak, Navy and Air Force Commanders, Inspector General of Police, Director-General of Sri Lanka Coast Guard, senior officials of Sri Lankan Foreign and Defence Ministries and senior military officers were among the attendees.
Several experts in the field of maritime defence from India, Maldives and Sri Lanka, together with observers from Mauritius and Seychelles, India and the Maldives were represented during the sessions at Senior Officials’ level.
The forum, fourth in sequence, took stock of the current maritime security environment in the region and the existing cooperation in the areas of Maritime Domain Awareness, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, Joint Exercises, Capacity Building, Maritime Security and Threats, Marine Pollution and Maritime Underwater Heritage, Covid-19 challenges, etc. They agreed to further strengthen cooperation in dealing with these challenges to ensure peace and security in the region for common benefit, a joint media statement issued by the Defence Ministry said.
Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne, delivering the welcome address, underlined the momentous importance of dialogue at trilateral level on a regular basis. The Minister of Foreign Affairs made the keynote address before the sessions began deliberations. Lalith Weeratunga, Advisor to the President made the closing remarks.
In view of COVID-19, the dialogue was conducted adhering to strict health guidelines using ‘Air Bubble’ concept for the visiting delegations, the statement noted.
Sri Lanka, India and Maldives launched the Trilateral NSA level Meeting on Maritime Security Cooperation in 2011 and three meetings had been held so far. The last meeting was held in March 2014 in New Delhi. The past deliberations and outcomes have helped the three countries in improving close coordination in maritime security of the region. These were supplemented by Deputy NSA level meetings for sustained engagements and implementation of the discussions at the NSA level meetings.
The three countries also exchanged views on common security threats and agreed to broad base cooperation by expanding the scope to improve intelligence sharing and include issues like terrorism, radicalization, extremism, drugs, arms and human trafficking, money laundering, cyber security and effect of climate change on maritime environment, the statement further said.
The Heads of Delegations agreed to meet regularly to share, discuss and ensure timely implementation of decisions taken at the Meeting. They also decided to hold Deputy NSA level working group meetings biannually for cooperation at operational level, it added.