President of Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has arrived in New Delhi on a four day visit accompanied by a high level official and business delegation. For India, Maldives is a very important neighbor in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
This time the talks are going to focus on connectivity, defence and maritime cooperation, trade, tourism, people to people and also to review the High Impact Community Development Projects among other projects.
It also holds a special place in India’s Neighbourhood First Policy, and soon after he had taken over as the President of Maldives in 2018, President Solih had described India as its “Closest Neighbour” both strategically as well as literally.
Why is Maldives important?
For India’s maritime and security, Maldives is an important strategic country. And New Delhi has always been the first responder to Maldives at the time of emergent needs. And has always maintained a supportive relationship with different governments in that country.
From time to time India has provided extensive infrastructural support across the whole economic and security spectrum, as well as financial, developmental, and capacity building.
Defence & Security Cooperation
Both countries are already exchanging high-level visits and there are mechanisms in place to further deepen relations. Several bilateral exercises are taking place including — Ekuverin ; Dosti ; Ekatha.
The two countries are partnering in training and capacity building of Maldivian National Defence Force.
India has helped with the Coastal Radar System with 10 radars & Control Station which was inaugurated in 2019. And for starting MNDF Senahiya Military Hospital India has gifted all the equipment required for running the hospital.
High Impact Community Development Projects
Financial Express Online has reported earlier, that India has given a grant of USD 10 million to neighbouring Maldives and has also helped in steered & executed by Local Island Councils of Maldives in 27 projects including : Agriculture, Education, Fisheries, Eco-tourism, Infrastructure, Sports, and Health.
Social Housing projects in Hulhumalé Phase II
India has helped in the construction of 4000Social Housing Units in Hulhumalé Phase II. And Buyers Credit of around USD 227 million has been extended to Maldives in Sep 2021 to provide affordable housing & support de-congestion of Malé city.
The President of Maldives is visiting India at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and at the end of talks several agreements are expected to be inked.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs, PM Modi will have talks with President Solih tomorrow and later the visiting leader will meet with President Droupadi Murmu at Rashtrapati Bhavan. He will be President Murmu’s first foreign visitor, she became the president.
As has been reported in Financial Express Online last week, the visit of the Maldivian President will provide the two leaders to review the progress made in their wide ranging partnership and also lend further momentum.
On Wednesday, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar will call on the Maldivian President today before he travels to Mumbai where he will have meetings with the industry captains.