Wed, 20 Jan 2021

Colombo [Sri Lanka], November 28 (ANI): India, Sri Lanka and Maldives on Saturday reviewed the current maritime security environment in the region, exchanged views on common security threats and agreed to expand the scope of cooperation to include issues such intelligence sharing and terrorism.

During the meeting, the three countries exchanged views on common security threats and agreed to broad base cooperation in issues such as combating terrorism, radicalisation, extremism, drugs, arms and human trafficking.

The three countries also decided to hold Deputy NSA level working group meetings biannually for cooperation at operational level.

This was the first National Security Advisor (NSA) level meeting on Trilateral Maritime Security Cooperation.

According to an official statement by the Ministry of Defence, Sri Lanka, "Recognising the significance of the forum for promoting meaningful cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region on common issues pertaining to maritime security, the three countries took stock of the current maritime security environment in the region and 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 common benefit."The Ministry further said that the three countries 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 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," the statement read.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena was the chief guest at the event. India was represented by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, who arrived here on Friday, while Maldives foreign minister Mariya Didi and Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Major General (Retd.) Kamal Gunaratne represented their countries during the talks.

During the meeting, the three leaders formalised the discussions by signing the minutes.

"The discussions of the trilateral meeting among India, Sri Lanka and Maldives were formalised through signing of the minutes by NSA Ajit Doval, Defence Secretary Major General (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne and Minister @MariyaDidi @HCIMaldives @SLinIndia @MFA_SriLanka @MEAIndia," tweeted India in Sri Lanka.

Mauritius and Seychelles were represented virtually at Senior Officials' level. In view of COVID-19, the dialogue was conducted adhering to strict health guidelines using 'Air Bubble' concept for the visiting delegations, the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry added.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that the NSA-level trilateral meeting has served as an effective platform for cooperation among Indian Ocean countries.

The mechanism is being revived after six years as earlier meetings were held in 2011 in the Maldives, in 2013 in Sri Lanka, and in 2014 in India.

"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 Sri Lankan Defence Ministry added. (ANI)

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