India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives on November 28 participated in the fourth National Security Adviser (NSA)-level trilateral meeting in Colombo, where they discussed ways of enhancing maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean region (IOR). The meeting was attended by India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne, and Maldives’ Defence Minister Mariya Didi. Senior officials from Seychelles and Mauritius also participated virtually. 

During the course of the meeting, various issues of mutual concern were discussed between the officials, including ways of enhancing maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean. Apart from taking stock of the current maritime security environment in the region, the three countries also discussed mutual cooperation in areas such as humanitarian assistance in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), defence relief, joint naval exercises, capacity building, marine pollution, underwater heritage among other things. 

The three countries discussed common security threats and also agreed to improve intelligence sharing and include issues such as terrorism, money laundering, drug trafficking, human trafficking, the effect of climate change on the marine environment. Officials also agreed to meet more often and decided to conduct deputy NSA-level meetings twice a year to ensure implementation of decisions taken at the meeting. 

The trilateral NSA-level meetings between India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives began in 2011 and since then four meetings have been held, including the latest one, which took place in Colombo. The last NASA-level talk between the three nations was held in 2014 in New Delhi. The latest dialogue was conducted keeping in mind the COVID-19 pandemic and all delegates had to adhere to strict guidelines, including the ‘Air Bubble’ concept.