The focus has accordingly expanded to include spheres such as countering terrorism and violent extremism, transnational crimes.
New Delhi: In a significant move, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and three other countries in the Indian Ocean region have come together on a "common maritime security platform," opening a new vista altogether.
The first Deputy National Security Adviser level Meeting of the Colombo Security Conclave, according to a release from the High Commission of India in Colombo (Sri Lanka), was "marked by convergence of views on common security threats" and was held in a warm, positive and forward-looking manner.
The meet was hosted virtually on August 4, 2021, by Sri Lanka under the Chairmanship of General LHSC Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of Army of Sri Lanka and participated among others by Pankaj Saran, Deputy National Security Adviser of India and Aishath Nooshin Waheed, Secretary, National Security Adviser's Office at the President's Office of Malpes.
Bangladesh, Mauritius and Seychelles participated as Observers were represented by Lt. Gen. Waker Uz Zaman, Principal Staff Officer to Armed Forces Division of Bangladesh Army, Mrs. Pusmawatee Sohun, Permanent Secretary, Prime Minister's Office, Mauritius, and Colonel Micheal Rosette, Chief of Defence Forces, Seychelles People's Force.
"The decision to establish Colombo Security Conclave was established in November 2020 at the NSA-level meeting of India, Sri Lanka and Maldives to forge closer cooperation on maritime and security matters," the release said.
It is understood that the "widening of thematic areas of cooperation and expansion of membership" to Bangladesh, Mauritius and Seychelles indicate "growing convergence" among the Indian Ocean Region countries to work together in a common platform and to deepen the spheres of engagement under a regional framework.
Keeping in mind the importance of widening cooperation in the regional context, it was decided at the NSA level meeting in Colombo to expand the overall ambit of work from maritime security to maritime and security cooperation.
The focus has accordingly expanded to include spheres such as countering terrorism and violent extremism, transnational crimes including narcotics, weapons and human trafficking, HADR, protection of the maritime environment and capacity building.
Obviously, In the meeting, all members expressed a keen desire to cooperate in the areas of maritime safety and security through joint exercises of navies and Coast Guards.
It is also understood that Sri Lanka and Maldives "expressed expectations and desire of assistance" from India on maritime and security issues.
For its part, New Delhi has assured its full assistance.
The three Observer states have been invited to join the conclave as full members at the next NSA level meeting, which is expected to be organised later in 2021 in Maldives. In light of recent pollution accidents such as MV Xpress Pearl, MT New Diamond and MV Wakashio in the Indian Ocean region, all members held focused discussions on combating marine pollution.
The importance of cooperation in dealing with terrorism and radicalisation was also discussed.
Making significant progress from earlier meetings, the Members elaborated proposals of implementation of these spheres of cooperation and identified pillars of engagement and modalities of execution.
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