At a time when China has ramped up aggression in the Indo-Pacific region, National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval will be in Colombo on Friday for trilateral discussions among India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives on maritime security cooperation.
This will be the first NSA level meeting on Trilateral Maritime Security Cooperation. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that the NSA-level trilateral meeting has served as an effective platform for cooperation among Indian Ocean countries.
The mechanism is being revived after six years as earlier meetings were held in 2011 in the Maldives, in 2013 in Sri Lanka, and in 2014 in India.
Analysts believe that the three countries have revived talks on maritime cooperation with “an eye on Chinese footprints in the Indian Ocean”.
“With an eye on increasing Chinese footprints in the Indian Ocean, India-Sri Lanka-Maldives to revive talks on the trilateral maritime cooperation after 6 years. India’s NSA Ajit Doval will be in Colombo tomorrow to meet @GotabayaR. The Maldives will be represented by @MariyaDidi,” National Security Analyst Nitin A Gokhale tweeted.
Several topics of mutual interest will be discussed when the visiting officials meet Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa for discussions, including possible defence agreements, Daily Mirror reported citing senior sources.
The talks come at a time when China is growing its assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region and is flexing its muscles all the way to South America.
Last month during the Quad foreign ministers meeting, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had said that India is “committed to upholding the rules-based international order” in Indo-Pacific. Jaishankar also asserted that advancing security and economic interests of all countries having legitimate and vital interests in the Indo-Pacific remained a priority.
The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo has described Chinese activity in the area as “deeply disturbing”.
Indo-Pacific region is largely viewed as an area comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea. China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and its efforts to advance into the Indian Ocean are seen to have challenged the established rules-based system.