New Delhi: India will assist its southern neighbor Sri Lanka to strengthen its maritime security infrastructure that would help counter-terrorism and drug trafficking besides safeguarding the rule of law in the region. Delhi and Colombo have decided on a collaborated mechanism to enhance maritime security cooperation, intelligence sharing, capacity building within the region, avenues to curb drug smuggling, and means of responding to natural calamities during the session.
This was decided during NSA Ajit Doval’s visit to Colombo as he met the ‘who’s who’ of the Lankan decision-making process, including President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, ET has reliably gathered.
Security in the Indian Ocean Region, new Indian investments in Lanka, and expediting infrastructure projects were part of the agenda when Doval met the Lankan Presiden
NSA informed Rajapaksa of India’s desire to invest in new sectors that help Sri Lanka consolidate economic development. An understanding was reached at the meeting to expedite the completion of India-funded development projects, sources indicated.
India is working on a plan to offer a $50 million Line of Credit (LoC) to Sri Lanka for the defense sector, Delhi has plans to offer defense hardware to Lanka under LoC besides expanding the training program for the military of the island nation. While India would prefer to supply additional equipment to the Lankan Navy there are plans to supply hardware and equipment to the other branches of the country’s military based on their needs.
At the Lanka-India-Maldives trilateral participated by Doval, the three countries recognized the significance of the forum for promoting meaningful cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region on common issues pertaining to maritime security.
The top security officials discussed mutual 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. They agreed to further strengthen cooperation in dealing with these challenges, to ensure peace and security in the region for the common benefit, according to a Lankan defense ministry statement.
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, cybersecurity, and the effect of climate change on the maritime environment.
The three sides agreed to meet regularly to share, discuss, and ensure timely implementation of decisions taken at the meeting, according to the Lanka statement. They also decided to hold Deputy NSA-level working group meetings biannually for cooperation at the operational level.