India assists Maldives in further strengthening maritime security

Asif Fuard, Haveeru Online

Maldives is expected to receive Indian assistance in further strengthening the country’s maritime security in the region, a Senior Indian Defence official said.

He said that Maldives agreed to obtain the facility of the Indian Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) Data Centre to monitor and track flagged merchant vessels owned by both India and Sri Lanka. It is also learnt that, Maldives had agreed to utilize the Merchant Ship Information System (MSIS) for exchange of unclassified information on white shipping and share Automatic Identification System (AIS) data.

“These systems that are being shared will further strengthen the maritime security of Maldives. Currently, we have received reports of piracy and illegal activities occurring just off the coast of Maldives. It is essential for India, Sri Lanka and Maldives to work together in order to counter such threats,” he said.

This recent move comes in the backdrop of the trilateral meeting held in Colombo between India, Sri Lanka and Maldives early this week. The countries were represented by National Security Adviser for India, Shivshanker Menon, Maldivian Minister of Defence and National Security, Mohamed Nazim and Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development of Sri Lanka, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

The three countries discussed during the high-level meeting on trilateral cooperation on maritime security of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) held in Colombo on Tuesday, on topics such as maritime cooperation, including simultaneous sharing of tsunami warnings, setting up a sub-group to study legal and policy issues relating to piracy and strengthen marine pollution response cooperation.

The Indian High Commission issuing a communiqué said that the three-side agreed on a roadmap for future cooperation in maritime security and they signed an Outcome Document outlining further collaborative measures in the areas of inter-alia Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA); strengthening coordination of maritime Search and Rescue (SAR); promoting marine oil pollution response cooperation; expanding ‘DOSTI’ (friendship) exercises; sharing of information on illegal maritime activities; and piracy.

The communiqué mentioned that the next NSA-Level Meeting on Trilateral Cooperation on Maritime Security between India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives will take place in New Delhi at a mutually convenient time.