India-Maldives-Sri Lanka to meet on Indian Ocean security after 6 years

India-Maldives-Sri Lanka to meet on Indian Ocean security after 6 years

After a gap of 6 years, India, Maldives, and Sri Lanka trilateral meet will take place with a focus on maritime security co-operation in the Indian Ocean region. The meet will take place in Colombo on November 27 and 28th, with India being represented by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. This is the first foreign visit of the NSA amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sri Lanka is being represented by its Defense Secretary Major General Kamal Gunaratne. Maldives Defense Minister Mariya Didi will be representing her country. 

This is the 4th time such a meeting is taking place. The first India-Maldives-Sri Lanka trilateral took place in 2011 in the Maldives. Second meeting took place in Sri Lanka in 2013 while the third took place in India in 2014.

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The Ministry of External Affairs while making the announcement called it an “effective platform for cooperation among Indian Ocean countries” and said it will provide an “opportunity for discussion on issues pertaining to cooperation in maritime security in the Indian Ocean region.”

Bangladesh, Mauritius, and Seychelles are observer members of the trilateral meet and are expected to participate. Maldives foreign ministry said it will see discussion on “most pressing issues surrounding maritime security in the Indian Ocean region”.

The meet happens even as the Indian ocean has seen an increased presence of Chinese vessels, a worrisome factor for several countries in the region. Chinese vessels have been found indulging in Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) activities in addition to being a security issue. 

The Indian Ocean region sees 80 per cent of world trade and a substantial oil trade taking place via its waters. It has 4 choke points, the most important being the strait of Malacca, which if disrupted can led to global trade being disrupted.

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