He was delivering the keynote address at the ‘Galle Dialogue’, held in Sri Lanka’s southern coastal town of Galle. Evoking a 1971 UNGA resolution, on the Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace, Mr. Doval said it was important to revisit the resolution mooted by Sri Lanka then “calling upon great powers not to allow escalation and expansion of military presence in the Indian Ocean.”
Mr. Doval’s remarks come at a time when India has been voicing serious concern over China’s growing military presence in the island. In October, Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was in New Delhi for a meeting with Mr. Doval and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley where New Delhi raised the issue of a Chinese submarine calling at the port in Colombo.
In his address on Monday, Mr. Doval said India has been a status quoist power in the region for 5,000 years, but it had no aggressive design or strategic reason for dominance that is detrimental to any other country.
He called for cooperation between countries to tackle challenges such as piracy, drug smuggling and human trafficking. India would enhance trilateral cooperation with Sri Lanka and the Maldives, he said, stressing the need for maritime security for prosperity. Over 100 representatives from 36 countries participated in the event with the theme Cooperation & Collaboration for Maritime Prosperity’, organised by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence and Urban Development.