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India, Maldives and Sri Lanka hold trilateral naval exercises, showcasing unique South Asia bonds

Indian, Maldivian and Sri Lankan coast guard hold joint exercises over maritime security, human trafficking, counterterrorism and cybersecurity (Photo: Indian High Commission, Colombo)

The coast guards of India, Maldives and Sri Lanka conducted a two-day maritime drill in the Indian Ocean on Saturday and Sunday.

The trilateral drill that sought to enhance mutual operation and bolster security in the Indian Ocean culminated in the Maldives on Sunday.

The drill is part of the Colombo Security Conclave (CSC) that seeks to streamline Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and has been conducted biennially for the last 30 years.

The Indian High Commission said in a tweet: "The aim of India-Maldives-Sri Lanka tri-lateral exercise 'Dosti' is to further fortify the friendship, enhance mutual operational capability, and exercise interoperability and to build cooperation between the Coast Guards of Maldives, India and Sri Lanka".

India was represented by the INS Subhadra Offshore Patrol Vessel and P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft, whilst the Sri Lankan Navy participated with Samudura and the Maldivian National Defence Forces had the Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft Dornier.

The forces of the three countries engaged in coordinated maritime surveillance in their respective Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) for counter narcotics, search and rescue at sea, air tracking and establishing effective Communication.

The trilateral drill had primarily started only between the coast guards of India and the Maldives. Sri Lanka joined in 2012 to convert the engagement into a trilateral exercise.

The Indian High Commission added: "The two-day exercise under the aegis of Colombo Security Conclave (CSC) is a pioneering effort to collaborate efforts towards the Pillar of Maritime Security".

The CSC Focused Operations are aimed at streamlining Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and enhanced interoperability amongst the three navies.

The CSC is a security-related dialogue held between the National Security Advisors of the three countries. The latest meeting of the CSC was held in August this year in Colombo to deliberate on the “four pillars” of maritime security, human trafficking, counterterrorism, and cybersecurity.

India, Maldives and Sri Lanka now plan to extend the CSC to include Bangladesh, Mauritius and the Seychelles in an effort to better understand maritime safety issues as well as human, drug and arms trafficking.