- The fourth National Security Adviser-level Trilateral Maritime Security Cooperation meeting was recently held between India, Maldives and Sri Lanka.
- Mauritius and Seychelles joined as observers through virtual mode.
About: Trilateral Maritime Security Co-operation Initiative
- The Trilateral Maritime Security Co-operation Initiative was launched by India, Sri Lanka and Maldives in 2011 at Male during the first National Security Adviser (NSA) level meeting on the subject. There were two subsequent meetings in 2013 and 2014.
- The factors that necessitated the trilateral maritime cooperation are:
- Maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean Region.
- Perceived or real threat from external sources.
- Issues like maritime terrorism, arms and drug trade, piracy, human and arms smuggling.
- Energy security and disaster management.
- The mechanism was suspended after India’s relations with the Maldives deteriorated under the previous government in Maldives.
- The mechanism has been revived after six years to promote meaningful cooperation in the Indian Ocean region on maritime security, due to China’s aggressive behaviour in the region.
- Past outcomes of the mechanism have helped the three countries in improving close coordination in maritime security of the region.
Highlights of the 4th Trilateral Maritime Security Co-operation meeting:
- The countries noted the forum’s significance in promoting cooperation in the Indian Ocean region on common issues related to maritime security.
- They reviewed the maritime security environment and discussed cooperation in areas such as maritime domain awareness, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, joint exercises, maritime threats and marine pollution.
- The three sides agreed to expand the scope of cooperation to improve intelligence-sharing.
- They agreed to include issues like terrorism, radicalisation, extremism, drugs, arms and human trafficking, money laundering, cybersecurity and effect of climate change on the maritime environment.
- Past trilateral meetings were limited in their scope, as they did not mention terrorism – they discussed maritime security, maritime domain awareness and illegal maritime activities.
- The representatives of the three sides also agreed to meet regularly for discussions and to ensure timely implementation of decisions made at the meeting.
- They also decided to hold deputy NSA-level working group meetings biannually for cooperation at the operational level.
- Maritime security challenges in the region continue to be an issue of concern.
- Thus, there is an urgent need to revitalise and strengthen this mechanism to deal effectively with the issues in the region.