India, Sri Lanka explore new maritime security pacts | Daily News

India, Sri Lanka explore new maritime security pacts

New Delhi is exploring with Colombo maritime security agreements that will strengthen India’s interests, particularly around the Eastern Trincomalee Harbour.

This mechanism includes the supply of Dornier surveillance aircraft for the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF), a ship repair dock for the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) in Trincomalee and a suggestion to post a SLN officer at the Intelligence Fusion Centre (IFC), 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, the Economic Times 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 Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa visits India later this month to fine tune a US$ 1 billion Line of Credit to boost the economy of the country.

An earlier plan by India to begin a coal power project in joint partnership with Japan has now been put on the backburner as Sri Lanka announced a move away from coal plants as part of its futuristic energy policy. This was announced by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the 2021 UN General Assembly in New York.

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 survival and revival. Defence partnership is one area where Colombo is putting more emphasis.

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

The re-opening of the Palaly (Jaffna) International Airport for commercial operations and several cultural projects in the Jaffna peninsula are also on the agenda of the two Governments.

Indian Foreign Minister Dr.S.Jaishankar is scheduled in Colombo in mid-March that is expected to be followed by the BIMSTEC Summit in Colombo on March 30 where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate either physically or virtually. (ET)


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