By Rahul Kumar
New Delhi, May 27: Sri Lanka has appointed its first International Liaison Officer to the New Delhi-based Information Fusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) earlier this week.
Lieutenant Commander Indika Wijesinghe of the Sri Lanka Navy was inducted into the IFC-IOR in the presence of Milinda Moragoda, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India; Rear Admiral KM Ramakrishnan, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Cyber Security and Network Centric Operations); Captain Soumyajit Mohanty, Director IFC-IOR and the ILOs from Australia, France, Japan, Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, United Kingdom and the US.
The appointment took place just days before the four-member Quadrilateral Summit in Japan on May 24 decided to launch the maritime security initiative for the Indo-Pacific region. Called the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA), it will track 'dark shipping'—illegal fishing, unregulated fishing and mapping of vessels that switch off their Automatic Identification System (AIS) to carry out activities undetected.
Under the Quad initiative, the IFC-IOR will coordinate with other centers in the region to have a clear picture of maritime activity in the Indo-Pacific waters.
In his remarks, High Commissioner Moragoda highlighted the importance of regional and global partners coming together to find lasting solutions to numerous maritime issues through enhanced cooperation to safeguard the Indian Ocean Region.
Moragoda said that the positioning of an ILO from Sri Lanka at the IFC-IOR also reflects the growing Indo-Lanka defence ties and Sri Lanka's commitment towards safeguarding the common maritime interest in the IOR.
The defence forces of the two nations have held numerous exercises on land and sea in the past few months along with high-level visits by senior defence officers. The two neighbours along with Maldives, and late-entrant Mauritius in 2022, also held the Colombo Security Conclave to discuss common security issues--Maritime Safety and Security; Countering Terrorism and Radicalization; Combating Trafficking and Transnational Organized Crime; Cyber Security, Protection of Critical Infrastructure and Technology, and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.
The IFC-IOR was established by the Indian Government in 2018 and is hosted by the Indian Navy to enhance maritime safety and security in the IOR that faces challenges like piracy and armed robbery, human and contraband trafficking, arms running, poaching, maritime terrorism and similar others. India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Mauritius form a regional umbrella to address common maritime security challenges.
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