http://expressbuzz.com/world/india-lanka-sea-lane-pact-to-ease-chinas-grip/235410.html COLOMBO: The agreement between India and Sri Lanka to jointly safeguard the sea lanes in the region, which was reached at a meeting between the Indian and Lankan Defence Secretaries here on Monday, is significant for two reasons, according to observers here. First of all, it represents a realisation in the two countries that their navies will have to collaborate to stem attempt by pirates or terrorists to disrupt shipping in the vital sea lanes South of India and Sri Lanka. The declaration that protection of sea lanes will henceforth â€œinformâ€ bilateral discussions on defence cooperation, underscores the centrality of the issue. The 26/11 attack had created in India an awareness of the threat from sea-borne terrorists. As for Sri Lanka, it had spent 30 years fighting a terror group that had a formidable naval arm. Secondly, the agreement represents Indiaâ€™s bid to play its legitimate part in the protection of the sea lanes without leaving the job entirely to China â€” the other major power engaged in the job. India is geographically well placed to monitor the New Silk Route (NSR) stretching from the Strait of Hormuz in the West to the Strait of Malacca in the East. In the Indian Ocean, the NSR passes by the Lakshadweep islands, Sri Lanka and the Great Nicobar islands. It is noteworthy that India and Lanka have pledged to hold periodic joint naval exercises. The proposed visit of the Indian Air Force chief to Lanka early next year indicates that the air forces of the two countries will also have to collaborate in safeguarding the sea lanes.