The Indian Navy has offered to train Sri Lankan Navy officers, said a statement issued by the office of President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday.

The announcement followed a meeting between the Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral D.K. Joshi, and Mr. Rajapaksa, which discussed important maritime issues in the Indian Ocean region.

Admiral Joshi told Mr. Rajapaksa that the Indian Navy would put Sri Lankan Navy officers through the four-year Bachelor of Technology course, now being offered to Indian Navy officers. Many countries wanted to enrol their officers in this course, but India would give Sri Lanka priority. The meeting also discussed ways of combating piracy in the Indian Ocean.

As for frequent arrests of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy for allegedly engaging in illegal fishing, Admiral Joshi and Sri Lankan Navy Commander Vice-Admiral Jayanath Colombage told the President that the two navies had always cooperated well while handling the problems faced by the fishermen of both countries.

‘Ongoing programme’

Sandeep Dikshit reports from New Delhi:

Officials in New Delhi have said it is an ongoing programme catering to the needs of Sri Lankan armed forces in all areas, except training in lethal weapons.

In this case, the course offered may be new, but that’s because the requirements of officers also change. And if India does not offer Sri Lankan officers training, other countries will step in. This happened when India pulled out Sri Lankan military officers from the Defence Staff Service College, Wellington, in June this year after protests by Tamil parties.

Colombo did not accept India’s offer to transfer the officers to an institute outside Tamil Nadu and opted instead for training in Quetta, Pakistan.