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September 26, 2023

India-Sri Lanka to sign Three-Defence Pact Agreement to elevate Maritime Security

BY Shivani

India and Sri Lanka will be signing the three-defence pact agreement to strengthen maritime security, during the visit of Sri Lankan Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa to India, expected on 25 -26 February, this week.

Rajapaksa, the younger brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, has been working with India to finalize an economic assistance package to help Sri Lanka weather a severe balance of payments crisis.

The focus of Rajapaksa’s visit will be a $1 billion line of credit provided by India to Sri Lanka to purchase food, medicines, and essential items, the two sides are close to finalizing three defence-related agreements and arrangements that will strengthen the capabilities of Sri Lanka’s armed forces and boost cooperation for maritime security.

Sri Lanka has agreed to post a naval liaison officer at the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) in Gurugram, in addition to agreements for the purchase of two Dornier aircraft and the acquisition of a 4,000-tonne naval floating dock.

In regional waters, the centre tracks merchant shipping and monitors threats such as maritime terrorism and piracy. The Sri Lankan liaison officer will work alongside counterparts from ten of India’s partner countries, including Australia, France, Japan, the Maldives, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The naval floating dock is a facility outfitted with automated systems for repairing warships in a timely and high-quality manner. These docks can lift large ships like frigates and destroyers and are designed to be berthed alongside a jetty or moored in calm waters to carry out planned or emergency ship repairs.

Another potential area of defence cooperation is the expansion of training for Sri Lankan military personnel in Indian facilities and institutions. Along with the former Afghan national security forces, Sri Lanka has been one of the most significant beneficiaries of India’s military training programmes.

Over the last few months, India has provided financial assistance to Sri Lanka as part of a four-pillar package agreed upon during Rajapaksa’s December visit to New Delhi. Under the SAARC facility, the Indian side has provided a $500 million line of credit for fuel purchases and a $400 million currency swap. It has also postponed a $515 million payment to the Asian Clearing Union.

The completion of the long-delayed project to renovate and develop the British-era Trincomalee oil farm, an 850-acre storage facility with a capacity of nearly one million tonnes, has also boosted bilateral cooperation.

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