India on Wednesday hosted the maiden meeting of IBSA NSAs — a day after BRICS NSA meet — which saw New Delhi proposing naval industry cooperation including development of joint platforms with an eye on counter-balancing China’s maritime ambitions. The three NSAs without naming Pakistan also decried state-sponsorship of cross-border terror.

Maritime security was identified as an important area of future cooperation at the NSA meet convened by AK Doval. It was agreed to strengthen mechanisms to combat piracy and drug and human trafficking and ensure security of sea lines of communication and energy and sustainable exploitation of marine resources, including fishing, officials informed.

India at the Wednesday’s meet proposed cooperation among the defence industries based on respective strengths of each country and pooling of resources for joint development of platforms, including naval platforms, officials further informed.

The next round of the trilateral ‘IBSAMAR’ maritime exercise will be held at the earliest. India also invited Brazil and South Africa for the MILAN naval exercise in 2022.

During the meeting, discussions were held on maritime security, fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime, and cyber security, officials said, adding, participants agreed that terrorism, in particular, cross-border terrorism undertaken through state sponsorship, continues to be the most potent threat to global peace and security and must be fought through united efforts. They also agreed to enhance cooperation in intelligence sharing, exchange of best practices amongst concerned national agencies and capacity building.

India, Brazil and South Africa are three large developing countries located in three different continents bound by common values of democracy and pluralism. They are also all maritime nations and the move by the NSAs to expand maritime cooperation can be viewed as an attempt to balance China’s global maritime ambitions

The meeting was convened as part of the preparatory process for the next IBSA Summit of Leaders which is scheduled to take place during India’s Chairship of IBSA. The theme for India’s Chairship is “Democracy for Demography and Development” as part of efforts to revive IBSA

The three NSAs also agreed to enhance practical cooperation in cyber security and accepted India’s offer to organise an Experts Group Meeting on Cyber Security. They also agreed to further strengthen coordination within the UN on cyber and ICT issues, according to a MEA statement.

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