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* Maldives seeks Sri Lanka's assistance in developing defense services
Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 12:40 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

June 27,Malé: Defense and National Security Minister of Maldives Colonel (Ret.) Mohamed Nazim Thursday requested Sri Lanka's help to acquire knowledge, training and other facilities to develop the Defense services in the Maldives.

This request was made when Col. Nazim called on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Kurumba Island Resort yesterday (June 26) and briefed the President on a number of defense priorities that Maldives hopes to achieve.

In addition to the assistance provided in various areas including the training of soldiers, President Rajapaksa agreed to look into other requests and assist Maldives in whatever possible manner.

While thanking Sri Lanka for its support in developing Maldives' Defense sector, Col. Nazim appreciated Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa's contribution. As two countries located in the Indian Ocean, this kind of cooperation will not only help each other but it will also help maintain stability in the region, Col. Nazim said.

The Defense Minister outlined some of the areas with which Maldives hopes Sri Lanka could assist, including search and rescue operations in the sea, disaster management, preventing sea pollution, education and training for Maldives soldiers at General Sir John Kotelawala Defense Academy, provision of health facilities in Defense services, conducting medical camps for soldiers, assisting with maintaining security in its maritime zone and cooperation between intelligence services.

Col. Nazim further said that Maldives has formed a special unit to protect the country from certain international forces attempting to destabilize nations. The Defense Minister requested Sri Lanka's assistance in providing air combat training for this unit, to which President Rajapaksa agreed. The Defense Minister further requested to explore the possibility of Sri Lanka manufacturing boats for the Maldivian coast guard and sought assistance from the Bank of Ceylon to obtain credit facilities for this purpose.

Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of Higher Education Mr. S.B. Dissanayake, Monitoring MP of the Ministry of External Affairs Mr. Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, Secretary to the President Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs Mrs. Kshenuka Seneviratne and Sri Lanka's High Commissioner in Maldives Mr. Dixon Dela Bandara were also present at the discussion.

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