Maldives, India in talks for setting up counter-terror system


New Delhi, March 15: Amid concerns over militant groups like ISIS attempting to radicalise its citizens, the Maldives on Monday said it is in talks with India for setting up a bilateral counter-terrorism mechanism to combat the menace.

Maldivian Foreign Secretary Ali Naseer  Mohamed, who held talks with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar over the weekend on a host of issues, said that discussions on setting up such a mechanism were ongoing.

“The mechanism we are discussing with India  is a bilateral one and our security and intelligence cooperation is mainly bilateral. It is a continuing discussion. The two countries are sharing ideas on how to make it operational. We have to work out the details,” Ali told reporters here.

He asserted that the Maldives and India have a common interest in stopping radicalisation,  counter-terrorism and addressing such issues.

Maldivian High Commissioner to India Ahmed Mohamed said, “There is a discussion between the Indian government and the Maldives on establishing a cross-border mechanism to address this issue and already the Maldives has institutionalised the process. We will be soon forming the mechanism.”

Asked how many Maldivians are believed to have travelled to the Middle East to fight with the Islamic State and other terror groups, the Maldivian Foreign Secretary said the country’s intelligence agencies estimate that the total number of those that have gone to the Middle East to engage in “illegal warfare” is less than 40.

Ali said the Maldives feels it is extremely vulnerable to the threat of radicalisation.

“It is a big concern for us. It is a social concern, it is a security concern. It is a concern and a threat that we are extremely worried about. We have said several times in the past that just like many other countries, the Maldives is also trying to find a way in which to deal with that,” Ali said.

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“There are no ready made answers. The countries that are much more powerful than the Maldives, that have far more sophisticated and advanced mechanisms to deal with such issues are still finding it difficult to grasp the situation and to respond adequately and the Maldives is no different,” he said.

To meet the challenge posed by radicalisation and terror, the Foreign Secretary said the country was working with its international partners.

“We are working with our neighbours Sri Lanka and India and most importantly with India. We also work very closely with the UK and the US on this issue. Also with other countries including Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey. Our police and intelligence work with them…. We also work with Pakistan,” he said.


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