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Lanka, India begin joint military exercise

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COLOMBO/NEW DELHI (PTI): Indian and Sri Lankan special on Monday began a nearly three-week military exercise in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency in the island nation.

A contingent of Indian Army's Special Forces troops together with Sri Lankan Special Forces and commandos, along with Navy and Air Force personnel are taking part in the training exercise - Mithra Shakthi at Uva-Kudaoya Commando Regiment Training School (CRTS).

Official sources said the training will continue till November 23. While officials described it as an annual event, sources said no such exercise was held last year though one was undertaken in 2012.

Sources refused to elaborate further saying military exercises between the two countries are politically sensitive.

Various parties in Tamil Nadu and even the state government are against growing military ties between India and Sri Lanka.

Over 40 Indian special forces personnel are participating in the exercise that will also see about 200 Sri Lankan military personnel in action.

A statement released by the Sri Lankan government said the exercise "an initiative, designed largely by the Indian Army is the successful outcome of the Annual Defence Dialogue (ADD)".

The dialogue was co-chaired in Colombo in early October by Defence Secretary R K Mathur and his Sri Lankan counterpart Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

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