21 February 2013

Indian Army Chief visits Sri Lanka


Indian Army Chief visits Sri Lanka

The Chief of the Indian Army, General Bikram Singh, will visit Sri Lanka from 18 to 21 December. He, along with his delegation of senior army officials, will meet Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, among others.

Both sides will review the status of the India-Sri Lanka defence cooperation, and discuss ways to enhance the bilateral relationship. Singh will also visit the headquarters of the security forces in Vavuniya, and the rehabilitation centre for the former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam combatants in Poonthottam.

This visit comes days after the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary announced that an India-Sri Lanka-Maldives trilateral agreement on maritime cooperation will be signed in the near future. This agreement will involve the three nations sharing resources and data to carry out surveillance, and anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean rim region.

In preparation to reduce response time during a crisis, India appointed its first Military Attache in the Maldives, last week.

With China developing the Hambantota port in the southern region of Sri-Lanka, strengthening defence ties with this island-nation becomes a strategic imperative for India.

India-Sri Lanka defence cooperation mainly revolves around safety and security of their sea lanes of communication. Presently, India provides technical and non-technical training to Sri Lankan military personnel in their institutions. Furthermore, following the end of the armed conflict between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan forces in 2009, India has been providing assistance for the rehabilitation of 3 lakh Tamils living in Sri Lanka.