April 22, 2021
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Bolstering foothold
The trilateral maritime security agreement Maldives and Sri Lanka, eyed by China and other world military powers because of their significant geopolitical locations, have entered into a trilateral cooperation with India on Maritime Security of far reaching importance. China has adopted Sri Lanka as one of the gems in its String of Pearls strategy to mark its strong presence in the Indian Ocean and encircle and contain India. And recently China has deepened its strategic and political engagement with Maldives by offering many sops to lure the island nation within its strategic fold. On the other hand the US is also in serious negotiations with the Maldives government to enter into a Status of Forces Agreement, which will provide a foothold to the American forces in this strategically significant island. India would not like the presence of any of the big powers to station their forces so close to Indian coasts, roughly 300 nautical miles from Kerala. However India has made a significant strategic move to bring the two island nations under the common umbrella of Trilateral Cooperation on Maritime Security in which Indian maritime assets will play a lead role. Though the trilateral security cooperation has not been agreed with the express intent of engaging in security partnership as understood in traditional sense, the agreement will help bring the security establishments of the three countries in a very close web of naval cooperation. The Coast Guard
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