India, Sri Lanka explore slew of maritime security agreements for Indian Ocean Region


India, Sri Lanka explore slew of maritime security agreements for Indian Ocean Region

Eyeing to secure its strategic interests in the Southern Indian Ocean region amid China’s growing inroads, New Delhi is exploring with Colombo a slew maritime security agreements that will strengthen India’s interests, particularly around the eastern Trincomalee harbour.

This mechanism include supply of Donier surveillance aircraft for the Sri Lanka Air Force, a ship repair dock for the Sri Lanka Navy in Trincomalee and suggestion to post a Sri Lankan Navy officer at the Intelligence 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, ET has learnt.

India is also keen to start a renewable energy (solar power) project in and around Sampur near Trincomalee and some of the economic projects could figure on the agenda when Sri Lankan Finance Minister visits India later this month to fine tune one bn usd Line of Credit to boost the economy of the island nation.

An earlier plan by India to begin a coal power project in joint partnership with Japan has now been put on backburner as Sri Lanka announced a move away from coal plants as part of its futuristic energy policy.

The Lankan Ministers and senior Indian officials have been visiting each other's capitals often over the last six months to put the Lankan economy back on track. Colombo has identified eight sectors which they want to integrate with India for economic revival. Defence partnership is one area where Colombo is putting emphasis.

Trincomalee has been of special strategic significance to India given its geographical location. India and Sri Lanka signed a deal in January to redevelop Trincomalee oil tank farms which was a result of an arduous effort undertaken by the two neighbours over the last few years.

Besides, the reopening of the Palay airport for commercial operations and several cultural projects in the Jaffna peninsula are also on the agenda of the two governments.

Jaishankar is scheduled in Colombo in mid-March that is expected to be followed by the BIMSTEC Summit in Colombo on March 30 where the PM will participate either physically or virtually.


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