President of Maldives, Ibrahim Solih meet with Indian PM Narendra Modi to enhance India-Maldives military ties and cooperation. The defence minister of Maldives, MA Didi, and the chief of defence staff, Major general Abdulla Shamaal, are expected to visit India on January 23 for discussions on immediate and long-term cooperation.
India will give financial assistance of $1.4 billion to the Maldives, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday, the biggest aid yet to the Indian Ocean island nation that is grappling with debt from a Chinese building spree.
Modi made the announcement after talks with Maldives’ new president, Mohamed Ibrahim Solih, who defeated the pro-China strongman Abdulla Yameen in a surprise election result in October and is trying to reset ties with India.
Both the countries are looking forward to joint surveillance of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Currently, Maldives EEZ — which is right in the middle of the much-used shipping lane in the middle of the Indian ocean faces security issues that the Maldives government cannot handle single-handedly. This will mean setting up surveillance radars and joint patrols by Indian and Maldives warships.
This, after the Chinese strong footprints and ‘developmental’ aid to Male, gives India a strategic footprint in the region. India also has plans to build infrastructure, particularly expand harbours in the medium-to-long term and offer some small warships to the Maldives.
The new government in the Maldives has been sensitive to Indian concerns. The defence minister’s visit marked with the placement of radars manned by Indian personnel could be the beginning of very close ties with the strategically located island nation.
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