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Lanka expresses concern on security situation in Indian Ocean region

Press Trust of India  |  Colombo 

Sri Lanka on Thursday expressed concern on the security situation in the Indian Ocean and sea lines of communication as well as the rise of religious extremism in the region.

Speaking at the 'Defence Seminar 2019' here, defence secretary General (Retd) Shantha Kottegoda said as a result of this fluid security situation in the region in connection with terrorism and rebellions, peaceful nation states too have taken steps to strengthen their military forces to deter any emerging threat to their peaceful existence.

"The Indian Ocean contains very vital sea routes that connects the East and West, which have become the life line for many nation states not only within the rim of it, but also all those who depend on sea line communication for commerce, energy resources, explorations and military domination of the region," he said.

Kottegoda said, "Many forms of military developments are taking place in the Indian Ocean region in the present era."

He said the Indian Ocean region is home for a large number of active armed conflicts associated with political causes. These long standing unsolved conflicts have resulted in military developments and modernisation of the armies of the affected nations.

"Also the rebel groups that are engaging in non-conventional conflict with legitimate military forces too have contributed to militarisation of the region to a very large extent," the defence secretary said.

Religious extremism is another root cause of conflict in the Indian Ocean region, he said, in apparent reference to the Easter suicide bombings by Islamist extremists that killed 258 people in the island nation.

Kottegoda said "religiously motivated extremist groups" and the nations that are being affected by them too have become "active players in the military modernisation and developments in the region".

Without naming any country, he said, the situation has presented an opportunity for the external global powers to actively involve in the regional security issues and to maintain a military presence and bases "in the name of global security and stability" in the Indian Ocean.

Kottegoda's remarks assume significance for New Delhi as the growing presence of the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean where it already acquired a logistic base at Djibouti has aroused concerns in India besides acquisition of the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka on a 99-year lease.

In March, the then naval chief Admiral Sunil Lanba had said that China's growing presence in the northern part of the Indian Ocean is a challenge for India but New Delhi is keeping a close eye on the deployment of Chinese ships and submarines in the region.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, August 29 2019. 18:45 IST
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