Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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Sri Lanka to enter into maritime security agreement with India

In a farsighted move to secure its strategic interests in the Southern Indian Ocean region amid China’s growing inroads, the Indian Government is to enter into a maritime security agreement with Sri Lanka that will strengthen India’s interests, particularly around the eastern Trincomalee harbor, informed sources said. .

This mechanism includes the supply of Donier surveillance aircraft for the Sri Lanka Air Force, a ship repair dock for the Sri Lanka Navy in Trincomalee.

It has been suggested to post a Sri Lankan Navy officer at the Intelligence Fu Fusion Centre, a Bahrain-based intelligence sharing office which is a US Navy initiative to combat international terrorism, the narcotics trade and ensure safe maritime passage for commercial vessels in the region,

The two sides are close to finalising three defence-related agreements and arrangements that will bolster the capabilities of Sri Lanka’s armed forces and boost cooperation for maritime security, Indian media reports revealed.

“In addition to agreements for the purchase of two Dornier aircraft and the acquisition of a 4,000-tonne naval floating dock by Sri Lanka, Colombo has agreed to post a naval liaison officer at the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) in Gurugram, a senior official familiar with the matter said.

“The centre tracks merchant shipping and monitors threats such as maritime terrorism and piracy in regional waters.

The Sri Lankan liaison officer will join counterparts from 10 of India’s partner nations, including Australia, France, Japan, the Maldives, Singapore, the UK and the US.

“The naval floating dock is a facility equipped with automated systems for the quality and swift repairs of warships.

Such docks have the capability to lift large ships such as frigates and destroyers, and are designed to be berthed alongside a jetty or moored in calm waters to carry out planned or emergency repairs of ships.

The people cited above said another potential area for defence cooperation is the expansion of training for Sri Lankan military personnel in Indian facilities and institutions.

Along with the erstwhile Afghan national security forces, Sri Lanka has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of military training programmes offered by India.

Meanwhile the Cabinet of Ministers has given the go-ahead to establish a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Sri Lanka with a grant of USD 6 million from India.
In a statement, the government said India has agreed to provide the required financial assistance for this Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre.

The relevant proposal was tabled by President Gotabaya in his capacity as the Minister of Defence.

Thereby, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of India and an agreement with Bharath Electronics of India will be signed for the establishment of the said centre.

Bharat Electronics Limited is an Indian government-owned aerospace and defence electronics company, which primarily manufactures advanced electronic products for ground and aerospace application.

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