India-Maldives ink pacts to expand defence ties

RSTV Bureau
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President of Maldives Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom witnessing the exchange of agreements documents after their meeting at Hyderabad house in New Delhi. Photo-PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President of Maldives Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom witnessing the exchange of agreements documents after their meeting at Hyderabad house in New Delhi.
Photo-PTI

India and Maldives on Monday signed a defence cooperation pact and five other agreements to expand bilateral ties between two countries. Signed agreements cover fields of taxation, tourism, space research, conservation & defence cooperation.

The Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, who is on a two day visit to India to take part in India-Maldives summit, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi where both the leaders held talks on bilateral cooperation in trade, investment and maritime security to combat terrorism and radicalisation.

“A multifaceted partnership is presented as the 2 leaders witnessed the exchange of 6 agreements in a range of areas,” tweeted MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaroop.

In the Joint address after signing pacts, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India Maldives are united by ancient cultural links, strong people-to-people ties & the tides of the Indian Ocean.

“Our cooperation is expanding, transcending boundaries. The South Asian Satellite will benefit Maldives in field of education, health & tourism,” said the PM.

Talking about the emerging security threats to the island nation, PM said that India is conscious of security needs of Maldives.

“Your challenges are our concerns. It is in India’s strategic interest to have a stable & secure Maldives,” said Prime Minister Modi.

President  of Maldives Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: Twitter/MEAIndia

President of Maldives Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Photo: Twitter/MEAIndia

PM Narendra Modi said India is ready to partner Maldives in its ambitious iHaven project. The iHaven project is one of the most important projects in President Yameen’s economic vision, and is being developed under the new laws of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

Speaking at the same venue after PM Modi, Maldivian President Abdulla said his country pursues an “India first” foreign policy and described it as most important friend of Maldives.

“The prompt implementation of a concrete action plan in the defence sector will strengthen our defence cooperation.

Development of ports, continuous training, capacity building, supply of equipment and maritime surveillance will be its main elements,” the Prime Minister said.

He also said India understands its role as a “net security provider” in the Indian Ocean and was ready to protect its strategic interests in this region.

Earlier in the day, he met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj  and discussed the issues concerning maritime security of both the countries.

“The week begins with Maldives. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj calls on President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom before formal talks in Delhi,” tweeted MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaroop.

aldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom  meets EAM Sushma Swaraj in Delhi. Photo: Twitter/MEAIndia

Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen
Abdul Gayoom meets EAM Sushma Swaraj in Delhi.
Photo: Twitter/MEAIndia

His visit to India amidst increasing concerns over militant groups like ISIS attempts to radicalise citizens of the island nation. Maldives is in talks with India for setting up a bilateral counter-terrorism mechanism to counter anti national activities by terror outfits.

Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom arrived in the national capital in Sunday along with a delegation comprising of Minister of Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Mohamed.

Shainee and three members of the Maldivian Parliament. He was received at the airport by Minister of Tourism and Culture Mahesh Sharma.

“A maritime neighbour comes calling! President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom of Maldives arrives on an Official visit,” tweeted MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaroop.

President Gayoom’s first state visit after assuming office was to India in January 2014. He also attended the swearing-in of Modi in May, 2014.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had visited Maldives in November 2014 and again in October 2015 for the India-Maldives Joint Commission which was held after 15 years.