Blinken Seeks Stronger Ties with Maldives Amid China's Growing Influence

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Maldives Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer, expressing Washington's intent for a deeper partnership. The U.S. seeks a free-and-open Indo-Pacific and aims to address climate change collaboratively. This meeting follows Maldives' recent political shift towards China, affecting regional dynamics involving India.

Reuters | Washington DC | Updated: 26-06-2024 04:22 IST | Created: 26-06-2024 04:22 IST
Blinken Seeks Stronger Ties with Maldives Amid China's Growing Influence
Antony Blinken
  • Country:
  • United States

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his counterpart from the Maldives on Tuesday and said Washington sought a deeper partnership with the Indian Ocean island state and stood with it in ensuring a free-and-open Indo-Pacific region and in dealing with climate change. Maldives Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer's Washington visit comes two months after the party of President Mohamed Muizzu won a landslide in parliamentary elections. Muizzu has pivoted ties towards China and away from India, a key U.S. regional partner in standing up to China in the Indo-Pacific.

The U.S. opened an embassy in Male in 2023 to boost engagement with the low-lying archipelago of about half a million people in the face of China's efforts to spread its regional influence. After the April election, Washington called the Maldives "a valued partner" and said ties were being strengthened in areas including economic development, education, security cooperation, and climate-crisis response.

"For us, the Maldives is an important partner, and we want to make sure that we're a good partner to the Maldives," Blinken told Zameer at the State Department. "We stand together in working to make sure that we have a free and open Indo-Pacific region. We stand together in dealing with the challenge posed by climate change ... We're working together to make sure that we have a secure maritime space, and fundamentally work together to try to build a prosperous future for our people."

Zameer said the Maldives government appreciated high-level exchanges it had with the U.S. since taking office. "I really look forward to have a very fruitful relationship with U.S., and, also, I think we have had in the past governments as well. So, we will continue to be working together," he said.

In May, India said it had replaced 80 soldiers on the Maldives with civilians after a demand by Muizzu, who has courted China and deepened defense ties with Beijing. The Indian troops supported two helicopters and an aircraft provided by New Delhi and mainly used for marine surveillance, search-and-rescue and medical evacuation operations.

Apart from the troops issue, the Maldives' permission to a Chinese research vessel to dock at its port, in India's backyard, also caused concern in New Delhi. India opened a new naval base near the Maldives in March to enhance surveillance in the Indian Ocean and in spite of the strains, its development projects in the Maldives have gained pace.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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