This follows discussions during NSA-level trilateral meetings on Maritime Security Cooperation

Stepping-up cooperation in maritime security in the Indian Ocean region, a secretariat for Trilateral National Security Advisors (NSAs) on Maritime Security Cooperation between India, Maldives and Sri Lanka was inaugurated in Colombo on Monday.

The secretariat has been established in keeping with the discussions held during NSA-level trilateral meetings on maritime security cooperation between India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, said an official release issued by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence.

The full-fledged secretariat will be operated 24/7, the release said quoting Sri Lankan Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ulugetenne.

Highlighting the importance of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Admiral (Retd) Jayanath Colombage said the entire world is benefitted with this initiative as the Indian Ocean is the lifeline of the entire world, the release added.

Senior officers from the Sri Lankan defense and foreign ministries, the Sri Lankan Navy, and defense attaches from India and the Maldives were present at the inauguration of the secretariat.

Sri Lanka had hosted the 4th NSA-level Meeting on Trilateral Maritime Security Cooperation on 27-28 November last year in Colombo after a gap of 6 years. Bangladesh, Seychelles and Mauritius represented the meeting virtually as Observer States.

For the Colombo trilateral, the Indian side was represented by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Maldives side was led by Defence Minister Mariya Didi and Sri Lanka had Defence Secretary Maj. Gen.(Retd.) Kamal Gunaratne leading the talks.

With the goal of encouraging meaningful maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region, the three countries had discussed a number of areas for possible collaboration such as maritime domain awareness, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, joint military exercises, capacity building, maritime security threats, marine pollution and maritime underwater heritage.

They had also agreed to expand intelligence sharing on issues such as terrorism, radicalization, extremism, drugs, arms and human trafficking and money laundering.

The first such trilateral meeting at the NSA-level was hosted by Maldives in 2011, followed by a meet in Sri Lanka. The third trilateral meeting was held in New Delhi in 2014.