At Maldives meet, NSA Ajit Doval calls for roadmap for Colombo Security Conclave
NEW DELHI: The Colombo Security Conclave, a grouping of India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, should institutionalise its cooperation with a roadmap and form new joint working groups to tackle drug trafficking and cyber-security challenges, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval said on Wednesday.
In his opening remarks at the fifth meeting of NSAs of the Colombo Security Conclave in the Maldives, Doval said the members of the grouping remain vulnerable to trafficking, organised crime and maritime terrorism, “particularly in the light of the developments in Afghanistan”.
Mauritius was accepted as the fourth member of the grouping at the meeting. Bangladesh and Seychelles, which too have been invited to join the Colombo Security Conclave, attended the meet as observer states.
Doval described the meeting as an opportunity to “move forward in institutionalising our cooperation with a concrete roadmap and a defined charter of objectives”.
He added: “As maritime neighbours, we face common security challenges. Our national security is deeply intertwined with our collective security aspirations in the region.”
He suggested several steps to enhance cooperation and coordination among members of the Colombo Security Conclave, including a meeting of heads of Coast Guard forces this year to discuss specific areas of cooperation, and the creation of two joint working groups on drug trafficking and transnational organised crimes and cyber security and emerging technologies.
India shared a concept note outlining modalities for a joint working group on cyber security among members of the grouping in January.
In an apparent reference to the Taliban takeover of Kabul in mid-2021, Doval said: “We remain vulnerable to the threats of trafficking and organised crime and maritime terrorism, particularly in the light of the developments in Afghanistan.
The problem of narcotics trafficking has intensified in the last one year.”
This, he said, was evident in the growing number of seizures over the past year. Acting on specific intelligence, a recent operation conducted by India’s Narcotics Control Bureau and navy along with their Sri Lankan counterparts resulted in the seizure of more than 800 kg of drugs, valued at $265 million, on the high seas.
The security agencies and services of the grouping are working on such intelligence inputs and close cooperation on such issues is in their mutual interest, Doval said.
He said India is committed to working closely with its maritime neighbours to collectively enhance capacities and counter maritime threats, including through training, supply of equipment, creating coastal security installations and exchange of information.
Maldives defence minister Mariya Didi, in her opening remarks, highlighted the possibility of the Russia-Ukraine conflict spreading beyond Europe.
“In today’s inter-connected and inter-dependent world, nations are drawn into conflicts no matter how far they may be and even if they do not wish to be part of those conflicts, sometimes by default and sometimes by design,” she said.
“The Russia-Ukraine conflict has the possibility of becoming a much wider conflict with grave consequences,” she said, calling for closer regional cooperation to “avoid conflict and ensure security and stability both inside and outside our borders”.