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India, Maldives and Sri Lanka to intensify intelligence sharing to combat terrorism


India, Maldives and Sri Lanka agreed on Saturday to enhance intelligence sharing to address common threats such as terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering, as the three countries revived their maritime security cooperation dialogue after a lapse of six years.

The meeting in Colombo, which was attended by India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Maldivian Defense Minister Mariya Didi, and Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Kamal Gunaratne, also decided that the working groups at the level of the attached NSAs, they will meet twice a year to strengthen cooperation in operations. level.

The dialogue, which was suspended after India’s relations with the Maldives deteriorated under Abdulla Yameen’s previous regime, was held in the context of China’s growing assertiveness in the Indian Ocean and the India-China border standoff. New Delhi has focused on strengthening security ties with key neighbors in recent months.

A joint statement issued after the dialogue said the three sides exchanged views on common security threats and “agreed to broad-based cooperation expanding the scope to enhance intelligence sharing to include topics such as terrorism, radicalization, extremism, drugs, weapons and human trafficking “. money laundering, cybersecurity and the effect of climate change on the maritime environment ”.

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The representatives of the three parties also agreed to meet periodically to discuss and ensure the timely implementation of the decisions made at the meeting. They also decided to hold meetings of the attached working group at the ANE level “every six months for cooperation at the operational level”.

The trilateral dialogue for cooperation on maritime security began with a meeting in Malé in 2011. Two more meetings were held in Colombo in 2013 and New Delhi in 2014. Mauritius and Seychelles were virtually represented at Saturday’s meeting.

While noting the importance of the forum to promote cooperation in the Indian Ocean region on common issues related to maritime security, the three parties also examined the maritime security environment and discussed cooperation in areas such as maritime domain awareness, assistance humanitarian and disaster relief, joint exercises, maritime threats and marine pollution. “They agreed to further strengthen cooperation to address these challenges, to ensure peace and security in the region for the common benefit,” the joint statement said.

Doval also held bilateral meetings with the Maldivian defense minister and the Sri Lankan defense secretary. In his meeting with Gunaratne on Friday, Doval discussed a collaborative mechanism to enhance maritime cooperation, intelligence sharing and capacity development, as well as ways to curb drug smuggling and respond to natural calamities.

In September, India provided a Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft to the Maldives National Defense Force (MDNF), which is expected to boost efforts to more closely monitor the movement of Chinese vessels in regional waters. During Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s visit to New Delhi in November last year, India offered Sri Lanka a $ 50 million line of credit to fight terrorism and improve intelligence gathering in the wake of suicide attacks. of Easter Sunday by terrorists linked to the Islamic State who killed 258 people.

Hindustan Times