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Enhanced security for key trade route

P. S. Suryanarayana

The objective is to supplement patrolling by littoral states

SINGAPORE: The littoral states along the Straits of Malacca, one of the busiest global trade routes, have agreed to enhance the security of shipping along this waterway by resorting to "maritime air-patrols".

Described as "eyes in the sky" by Malaysia, which proposed this initiative, the objective is to supplement the ongoing "coordinated patrolling" by the navies of the littoral states. Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia are the acknowledged littoral states.

Thailand, their maritime neighbour, has now been co-opted for carrying out a regular aerial patrolling of the Malacca Straits. The four set up, earlier this month, a working group to "move forward expeditiously" to begin the delicate aerial patrolling over the narrow sea lane. If the ongoing naval patrolling is any guide, the aerial surveillance may also be a "coordinated" effort rather than being "joint" operations by all the four.

Another panel was formed by them to fast-forward action in regard to the Indonesian proposal to create "reporting sectors" along the Malacca Straits. Jakarta appears to have suggested that the navy of each of these four cooperating countries should have the right of passage through the territorial waters of the other three.

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