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In a major step towards maritime security cooperation, India, the Maldives and Sri Lanka are all set to enhance intelligence-sharing to tackle common threats such as terrorism and drug trafficking in the Indian Ocean region (IOR), said Indian Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh in Panaji on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Goa Maritime Conclave on ‘Maritime Security & Emerging Non-Traditional Threats, Singh underlined the need for other countries to come together and collaborate to tackle threats posed by non-state actors.

“Maldives, Sri Lanka, and us are going to have focused operations where we will deal with these as soon as the intelligence comes in. We will try to share the intelligence, cohere our assets so that we can nab them. This is one example where we will take actionable intelligence for the common good of everyone in the region,” said the chief of naval staff while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the conclave.

The three-day Goa Maritime Conclave (GMC) has naval chiefs and heads of maritime forces from 12 Indian Ocean littorals, including Bangladesh, Comoros, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Singh also said that friendly nations in the IOR are working on collective maritime competence. “Each country has either geographical location, knowledge of operations, technology, manpower and in this region we want to build something called the collective maritime competence,” said Singh.

In order to enhance bilateral cooperation and enhance the capabilities of participating nations, India has also offered to train and share maritime platforms with the neighbouring nations. Citing the example of Sri Lanka, which successfully dealt with the LTTE, Singh said that other nations have a lot to learn from Sri Lanka.

“If any of the 12 IOR nations see any capacity that they would like to increase, then we will try and offer it to them through our shipyards. Similarly, the naval academy at Ezhimala is doing really well so we have increased our intake. What we are trying to do is build the collective maritime competence because the Indo-Pacific region is too big for anyone to do it alone,” said Singh.

The decision to share intelligence and work with Maldives and Sri Lanka was taken at the Colombo Conclave in November 2020 when India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Maldives’ defence minister Mariya Didi and Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne issued a joint statement.

(Times of India)

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