The NSA-level meetings on trilateral maritime security cooperation have served as an effective platform for cooperation among Indian Ocean countries, especially with China's growing influence in the region and beyond (All images courtesy: Indian Embassy in Maldives)
Highlighting the shared regional security challenges faced by countries in the Indian Ocean, India's National Security Adviser Ajit Doval has called for strengthening cooperation amongst maritime neighbours to secure the region by working together on a common platform.
NSA Doval is currently in Maldives to attend the 5th edition of Colombo Security Conclave (CSC), a trilateral initiative comprising India, Sri Lanka and Maldives for cooperation in the field of maritime security.
The grouping – dubbed by many as a 'Quad minilateral' led by India – has been further strengthened with Mauritius becoming its fourth member on Wednesday.
The focus of the conclave encompasses cooperation in combatting human trafficking, counter terrorism, radicalisation as well as the protection of critical infrastructure, cyber security, oil pollution response plan and Covid-19 concerns.
National Security Advisors and representatives from Bangladesh and Seychelles are also participating in the conclave.
Describing the meet as an opportunity to "move forward in institutionalising cooperation with a concrete roadmap and a defined charter of objectives", NSA Doval, in particular, welcomed participation of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Security Advisor, Major General (Retd.) Tarique Ahmed Siddique, who had also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Monday.
"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 accidents," said the Indian NSA.
In her remarks at the opening ceremony, Maldives' Defence Minister Mariya Didi reiterated President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's commitment to the peace, security and stability of the region and her government's view of Colombo Security Conclave, despite its infancy, as a meaningful construct to tackle many of the pressing challenges we face.
Highlighting the regional security challenges facing the Maldives such as narco-trafficking, human trafficking, piracy, IUU fisheries, counterterrorism and violent extremism, the minister noted that while there is no recorded case of any Maldivian entering a designated conflict zone as a Foreign Terrorist Fighter in the last three years, the assassination attempt on the Speaker of People's Majlis last year was a wakeup call for all.
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The NSA-level meetings on trilateral maritime security cooperation have served as an effective platform for cooperation among Indian Ocean countries, especially with China's growing influence in the region and beyond.
The NSAs also engage in high-level bilaterals on the sidelines of the meeting, thus further strengthening the regional defence and security cooperation.
After a trilateral Table Top Exercise (TTX) between Indian Navy, Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) in July 2021, a maiden 'Colombo Security Conclave (CSC) Focused Operation' was conducted between the lead Maritime Security Agencies of India, Maldives and Sri Lanka, last November over a vast area in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of the three countries in Southern Arabian Sea.
Also Read: Doval leads India's participation in tri-nation meet as Indian Ocean countries strengthen defence ties, cooperation