(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Close defence co-operation between strategically located Sri Lanka and regional power India was firmed up yesterday when visiting Indian National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval held talks with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The top Indian security official’s visit to Colombo follows official talks in Delhi last November between newly elected President Rajapaksa and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Doval met with President Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat on Saturday and discussed a range of bilateral issues, including the USD 50 million Indian assistance to purchase intelligence-gathering equipment, according to a communique by the President’s Media Office.
Military-to-military cooperation, with a special focus on Indian Ocean regional security was the major item on the agenda. Both countries agreed on the importance of maritime security and close cooperation and interoperability between their Coast Guards, the communique said.
During the discussions, Doval has pointed out to President Rajapaksa that it is important that India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives review the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) regime and include other regional countries as observers. The MDA regimen keeps track of vessels in the countries’ maritime areas.
The inter-operability of the two Coast Guards was highlighted as it is vital in order to check smuggling, drug-trafficking, gun-running by non-state actors and illegal fishing. The discussion focused on in the establishment of an earth coordinating centre as well, the communique said.
Doval is the second highest ranking Indian official to visit Colombo following President Rajapaksa assumed duties in November 2019. The Indian Foreign Minister was the first foreign official to meet the President as soon as he took office.
Meanwhile, President Rajapaksa, in his official twitter account, said that “A very cordial discussion was held with National Security Advisor of India, Ajit Doval today. Strengthening of bilateral cooperation on national security, intelligence sharing, maritime security & fostering of regional collaboration, were some of the key points of discussion.”