India will train personnel from the Sri Lankan armed forces besides holding a joint naval exercise with the Lankan navy in 2011.
This was announced by the Sri Lankan government after Indian defence secretary Pradeep Kumar called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday morning.
The meeting took place after Kumar paid his respects – the first Indian defence secretary to do so – at the memorial for the 1200 Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) members who died in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990.
Later, during his meeting with Rajapaksa, Kumar extended New Delhi’s offer of 1400 training placements for the Sri Lankan security service personnel. The number of training placements offered is higher than the number of Lankan personnel already getting trained every year at various defence institutes and schools in India.
``It was agreed that the two countries will have a joint naval exercise in Sri Lankan waters in 2011,’’ a statement from Rajapaksa’s office said.
Rajapaksa welcomed the continuing good relations between Sri Lanka and India and welcomed the initiatives to strengthen cooperation in defence relationship between the countries.
Kumar emphasised the importance of ways of increasing service-to-service cooperation between the two countries.
The decision to institute the mechanism of an annual Defence Dialogue was agreed during the meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rajapaksa in June this year following which a programme has been launched to improve defence relations between the two countries.
The Indian Defence Secretary met External Affairs Minister GL Peiris and defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Monday.