New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is officially visiting Maldives. It marks the first official visit by the Defence Minister since assuming office. The three-day visit to the Maldives comes upon the official invitation of the Maldivian Minister of Defence and National Security, Mariya Ahmed Didi.
The Indian Defence Minister was received at the Airport by Maldivian Defence Minister Mariya, who was accompanied by the Chief of the Defence Force, Major General Abdulla Shamaal.
The three-day visit of the defence minister will further boost defence ties between India and Maldives, enhance defence cooperation, and strengthen the long-standing defence and security partnership between the two countries. The Defence Minister will also hand over an Offshore Patrol Vessel and an assault landing craft and inaugurate the MNDF Coast Guard Harbor development project and repair facility at Sifavaru.
Last year on the visit of the Maldivian President to India, India agreed to replace the ship for the earlier provided ship-CGS Huravee Supply second Landing Craft Assault (LCA) to Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and gifting of 24 utility vehicles to Maldives National Defence Force.
India and Maldives have deep institutional linkages for cooperation in the areas of defence and security, investment promotion, human resource development, and infrastructure development including climate and energy.The Indian Defence Minister will be meeting with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solh, Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid and Minister of Defence and National Security Mariya Ahmed Didi.
Presently, India emerges as Maldives' second-largest trade partner. The relationship between India and Maldives is on a high note. Several MOUs are signed, and India's investment in several important projects is solid and helpful for the Maldives. The Maldives, home to around 700,000 people from the west coast of India is around 70 nautical miles away from Minicoy and 300 nautical miles away from India's West Coast.
Its situation at the hub of commercial sea lanes running through the Indian Ocean is very strategic. Maldives undergoes a national election on September 9, 2023, and will be monitored by nearly every country that matters.