Thursday, May 6, 2010

Navies of Indian Ocean countries to work out anti-piracy plan

India, which had rallied a group of nations to form the strategically important Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) in 2008, is now seeking cooperation from the partner countries to keep an eye on sea-borne terror attacks. The second edition of the IONS summit is to start from 10th May at UAE, where India is slated to bring about a move to have cooperation for dealing with piracy and for having a system to share information on suspicious movement of boats that could be used by the terrorists and also gun running.

India will also want to have a system to scan and ensure containers used by merchant ships to trade cargo. Sources confirmed that sharing of intelligence on possibility of sea-borne attacks has been worked out with some countries in the past. This needs to be expanded to have more countries in the Indian Ocean on the same platform. The Indian Navy was handed overall charge of coastal security in March last year, following the Mumbai attacks in November 2008.

Meanwhile, in another important development the navies of the US, the UK and Japan have applied for “observer status” in the IONS, which has 37 nations. The applications would be taken up by vote in the IONS. Notably, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Foreign Cooperation and Intelligence) Rear Admiral SY Shrikhande told reporters here “China has not applied for observer status in IONS”. India would also hand over the chairmanship of the symposium to the UAE at the conclave.

Admiral Shrikhande, while explaining the observer status, said India was also an observer in the Western Pacific Naval Symposium. There was no chance of these countries of getting permanent member status in the IONS. The US operates a military base from the islands of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. France has already been a member of the IONS due to its hold over the Reunion Islands. Pakistan, which had earlier opposed the grouping, was also likely to attend the conclave........................Source

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