The Indian Ocean-centred maritime security trilateral between India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives will be expanded to include two more island countries.
Seychelles and Mauritius attended the third meeting of the trilateral held here on Thursday and both said they were very interested and would like to participate in future interactions, National Security Adviser (NSA) Shiv Shankar Menon told newspersons here.
India would like to have a similar system to share information about activity in the Bay of Bengal as well. It has started discussing the concept with its neighbours but “we haven’t figured out what to do on the Bay of Bengal side — whether we replicate the trilateral or expand it to include Indian Ocean countries.” said the NSA.
Mr. Menon was not optimistic about the present trilateral (or the soon-to-be IO-5) being expanded to cover the Bay of Bengal. Most of the Indian Ocean island countries, especially Seychelles and Mauritius, may not be too concerned with maritime domain awareness (MDA) in the Bay of Bengal.
Beginning in 2011 as a concept, the trilateral has reached a state of preparedness from where it is capable of responding to illegal activity such as piracy. “We have put in place a system so all can see the same picture in the maritime area,” said the NSA.
By training people to work together, the trilateral has also built up capacity in responding to search and rescue and oil spills. Sri Lanka and India have also expanded their joint naval exercises to include Maldives.