Sri Lanka urges maritime security boost at ARF

MANILA, Aug 2, 2007 (AFP) – The international community must step up efforts to safeguard maritime security in the face of terrorist threats, Sri Lanka said here on Thursday. Sri Lanka faces its own sea-borne threat from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which is campaigning for a separate state for minority Tamils.

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said sea lanes, air space and territories were vulnerable to attack and that the world must focus more on securing the oceans.

He was speaking to reporters after ministers at the ASEAN Regional Forum, Asia’s main annual security meeting, restated the importance of tackling maritime threats.

“Ensuring maritime security is a dimension that has assumed importance, given the ability of terrorist movements to disrupt the free flow of trade through the high seas,” said Bogollagama.

He said it was the “collective responsibility of the international community” to improve security in Southeast Asia’s Malacca Strait, through which about half the world’s oil supply passes.