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India, Maldives & Sri Lanka's Dosti-16' kicks off in Maldives

MALE (PTI): Highlighting the importance of "collaboration and interoperability" among the coast guards personnel of the Maldives, India and Sri Lanka, Maldivian Defence Minister Mohamed Ghassan Maumoon said the trilateral exercise Dosti' will unite the troika to address "shared maritime security concerns through collaboration."

Maumoon was speaking at an event to formally inaugurate the 16th iteration of Dosti," the biennial exercise, which began on Thursday and would continue until Sunday.

Indian Coast Guard ship Samarth and ICGS Abhinav along with Sri Lanka Naval Ship Samudura are participating in the exercise DOSTI-16' while Bangladesh is participating as an observer.

Sri Lanka has described Dosti' as a trilateral exercise that aims to enhance cooperation, strengthen friendship, improve mutual operational capability, and develop interoperability among the Coast Guard personnel of India, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka.

"Scheduled from February 22nd to 25, the exercise provides participating forces with opportunities to engage in various maritime activities, including interdiction operations, search and rescue missions, surveillance, and communication drills," the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) said in a statement.

These activities aim to enhance their collective capability to respond to maritime security and safety challenges," it said.

Ministers of the Maldivian government, as well as the Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Abdul Raheem Abdul Latheef, Vice Chief of Defence Force, Brigadier General Ibrahim Hilmy, Additional Director General of Indian Coast Guard, ADG S Paramesh, and some foreign ambassadors, took part in the inauguration ceremony that was held on February 22, the MNDF statement said late on Friday night.

Speaking at the event, Maumoon emphasised the importance of greater collaboration between the coast guards of Maldives, India and Sri Lanka to address "shared maritime security concerns."

Exercise Dosti' focuses on regional cooperation in areas such as search and rescue, medical evacuations, countering piracy, pollution response, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.

According to Edition.mv, a news portal, Maumoon said, "President Dr Mohamed Muizzu's administration places the highest priority on ensuring that close relations, peace and stability is maintained between Maldives and neighbouring nations."

He said that the President has assured that he will focus on maintaining regional stability and noted that Sri Lanka's participation in the training since 2012 has brought further advancement to the programme, the portal said.

"Trilateral Joint Exercise 'EX-DOSTI-16' begins. Minister of Defence @mgmaumoon graced the inauguration ceremony, emphasising the importance of this historic event in uniting the Coast Guards of Maldives, India and Sri Lanka to address shared maritime security concerns through collaboration," the MNDF posted on its official X handle along with photos from the event late on Friday night local time.

Apart from the formal inauguration, Munu Mahawar, High Commissioner of India and S Paramesh, ADG Indian Coast Guard, also welcomed Mohamed Ghassan Maumoon, Minister of Defence, Maldives, and Moosa Zameer, Foreign Minister, Maldives onboard ICGS Samarth for trilateral exercise DOSTI XVI.

"Strengthening bonds and fostering cooperation among our maritime neighbours!" the Indian Coast Guard posted on X along with the photos of the visit.

"The trainings ... will include maritime interdiction operations, ocean search and rescue operations, maritime surveillance and communication drills," Edition.mv said, adding that the training activities are being held in the Male area and surrounding seas.

The 'Dosti' series of naval exercises had begun in 1992 with only Maldives and India. Sri Lanka joined the programme in 2012 and this year, in the 16th edition, the Bangladesh Coast Guard too has joined as an observer.

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