Maldives Defence Force Chief receives Guard of Honour in New Delhi
Maldivian National Defence Force Chief, Major General Abdulla Shamaal received a Guard of Honour in the national capital on Thursday.
Maldivian National Defence Force Chief, Major General Abdulla Shamaal received a Guard of Honour in the national capital on Thursday. He visited India to strengthen the bilateral ties and defence cooperation between the two countries.
The Maldives is more than just India's foremost development partner in South Asia but also a reliable and trustworthy defence, more so since defence partnership is emerging critical to maintaining peace and stability in the Southern Indian Ocean Region. There have been several high-level defence visits between the two countries. Earlier, Indian Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral R Hari Kumar visited the Maldives to strengthen the ties between both countries to maintain security in the Indian Ocean Region.
Development cooperation has been an imperative pillar of the Indo-Maldives relationship. New Delhi has provided Lines of Credit of over USD 1.2 billion for infrastructure development besides several grants for community development projects in the island nation. Since 1988, defence and security have been major areas of cooperation between India and the Maldives. This cooperation extends to assisting the Maldives with defence training and equipment requirements. India provides the largest number of training opportunities for MNDF personnel, meeting almost 70 per cent of their defence training requirements, POREG reported.
Apart from defence and security partnerships, India and Maldives have in recent times expanded their strategic cooperation including focusing on counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency. India and Maldives share common perspectives on maritime security issues in the Indian Ocean and have been working together closely in several bilateral, mini-lateral and multilateral fora such as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium and the Colombo Security Conclave.
India's "Neighborhood First" policy and Maldives' "India First" policy work in tandem to tackle shared concerns and advance mutual interests. For India, Maldives has always been a close and important maritime neighbour. Multifaceted ties between the two countries have strengthened despite the pandemic-related disruptions. High-level engagements continued with External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar visiting the Maldives in February 2021 and two visits by the Foreign Minister of Maldives to India in April and July 2021.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maldivian counterpart Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had a telephonic conversation in July 2021. Bilateral cooperation with the Maldives includes the creation of people-friendly infrastructure - housing, water and sanitation, health and education, ports, roads and stadiums. It also includes maritime security; connectivity and people-to-people exchanges.
India gifted 200,000 doses of Covishield vaccines to the Maldives in January - February 2021 and this set the stage for a rapid and successful vaccination drive in the Maldives. This has enabled the Maldivian economy to get back on a path to recovery. India has emerged as Maldives' second-largest trade partner, with around 13 per cent market share for Indian exports. In July 2021, India extended the agreement on quotas for restriction-free export of 9 essential commodities to the Maldives for the next three years. (ANI)
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