Apart from an agreement to have a joint naval exercise in Sri Lankan waters in 2011, India will offer 1400 training placements for the Sri Lankan security service personnel

Despite Indian defence personnel training academies being almost fully subscribed, India will offer additional training placements for the Sri Lankan security service personnel.

This was part of the peacetime engagement process that India and Sri Lanka agreed upon on Tuesday. Both the sides also decided on a series of measures to enhance defence cooperation between the two countries.

The offer to train was conveyed by the visiting Indian Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa when he called on the President at his official residence, Temple Trees, here on Tuesday.

During the meeting, it was agreed that the two countries will have a joint naval exercise in Sri Lankan waters in 2011. Also, an annual defence dialogue and staff level talks between the Navy and Armies of the two countries will begin from 2011.

On behalf of the Indian Air Force he accepted the invitation to participate in the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Sri Lankan Air Force next year. The Air Force Chief will also visit here for bilateral dialogues later this month. The Indian Army Chief and the Navy Chief have already held discussions with their counterparts here.

Mr.Kumar told Mr.Rajapaksa that the prevailing good defence relationship between India and Sri Lanka should be further expanded and strengthened.

While appreciating the good bilateral relations between the two countries he said the Defence Dialogue between India and Sri Lanka should be further expanded to include army and navy.

“I am happy over the manner in which the discussions went. We will continue the discussions,” he told The Hindu.

Mr. Rajapaksa welcomed the continuing good relations between Sri Lanka and India and welcomed the initiatives to strengthen cooperation in defence relationship between the countries, a release from the President’s office said.

The decision to institute the mechanism of an annual Defence Dialogue was agreed during the meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Mahinda Rajapaksa in June this year following which a programme has been launched to improve defence relations between the two countries.

Mr.Kumar outlined the ways of increasing service-to-service cooperation between the two countries.

Earlier, Mr.Kumar paid homage to the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) troops killed by the LTTE.

The Indian delegation that held multi-pronged talks with the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakasa and Foreign Minister G.L.Peiris, included the Indian High Commissioner, Ashok Kantha; Smitha Nagaraj Joint Secretary (PIC), Ministry Of Defence; Tirumurti, Joint Secretary (BSM), Ministry of External Affairs, Sumer Singh Additional Director General Military Operations (A), Ministry Of Defence (Army); Rear Admiral A. Chawla MOD (Navy); Air Vice Marshal BS Dhanoa, Air Headquarters; DIG KR Suresh Director (Operations) Coast Guard Headquarters.

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