National Security Adviser Ajit K. Doval has called for “close cooperation” among India’s maritime neighbours to combat shared security challenges, even as the Colombo Security Conclave expanded its membership and scope.
Addressing the fifth NSA-level talks of the Conclave, which concluded in the Maldives on Thursday, Mr. Doval said: “Our national security is deeply intertwined with our collective security aspirations in this region. Our geographical proximity allows us to be first responders for each other in crisis situations. We have worked well together, in tackling narcotics trafficking, organised crimes and mitigating threats posed by (maritime) accidents,” referring to India’s support to Sri Lanka when vessels in its waters caught fire.
Last year, India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives revived a trilateral initiative on Indian Ocean maritime security, deciding to share intelligence and collaborate on “four pillars” of security cooperation, including marine security, human trafficking, counter terrorism, and cyber security. Now, Mauritius has joined the Conclave, whose scope has been expanded to include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
In addition to calling for a “concrete roadmap” for cooperation, Mr. Doval said India was “committed to working in close co-operation with our maritime neighbours”, to build capacity through training, supply of equipment, upgrading coastal security installations, and exchange of information for unitedly countering threats, the Male-based Awaz reported. A naval heads’ meet is likely to be organised as a follow-up to the Conclave.
Maldives Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi, Secretary to Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence General Kamal Gunaratne (Retd.), and Kumaresan Ilango, National Security Adviser to Mauritius, joined the deliberations with Mr. Doval. Delegations from Bangladesh and Seychelles participated as observers, a joint statement said. The NSAs also discussed countering narcotics trafficking and transnational organised crime and cyber security and emerging technologies.