India’s NSA Doval in Colombo
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
India’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and the Maldives Defence Minister Mariya Didi were in Colombo to attend the Fourth National Level Trilateral Maritime Security Meeting on 27 and 28 November.
At the meeting, Doval was also expected to have high level bilateral engagements with Sri Lanka’s leadership. The two-day meeting focused on maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean region, the Maldives and Sri Lanka.
Doval also met Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and was scheduled to meeting President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as well.
Meeting Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, Doval said the Government of India would extend its full support in reviving both nations and that despite the COVID-19 situation, development in the region, including Sri Lanka and India, should be prioritised.
Premier Rajapaksa stated that housing projects have been implemented in the North and East and the upcountry areas with the assistance of the Indian Government and requested the support of the Government of India to commence such housing projects with a clear approach while Doval reassured of the Indian Government’s utmost support to these causes.
Under the guidance of the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, it was agreed at this meeting to adopt modern technology and to focus on drinking water supply projects initiated in India and to adopt such technology in Sri Lanka.
Doval said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries in the region had to face similar economic and social problems but that economic revival and governance must continue in order to overcome the obstacles of this pandemic. Doval said that despite the COVID-19 epidemic, a lot of diplomatic deliberations have been held virtually on the development of bilateral relations and foreign affairs between leaders. Furthermore, he also said that a lot of immigrant workers, both in Sri Lanka and India, have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and that this has reduced the inflow of foreign currency. However, despite the fact that the economy needs to be strengthened in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, strategies to promote economic growth and development are also being pursued by small countries in the region, he added.
Doval’s arrival was on the invitation of the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Major General (Retired) Kamal Gunaratne.
The other Indians officials in Colombo were Rear Admiral (Retired) Monty Khanna, Deputy Military Advisor Amit Narang, and Akshey Joshi, Akilesh Jindal and Tejal Chandan.
High Commissioner of India in Colombo, Gopal Baglay, together with the Chief of Defence Staff, the Commander of the Army and the Head of the National Operations Centre for the Prevention of the COVID-19 Outbreak, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva were at the Bandaranaike International Airport on 27 November to welcome the delegation.