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Maldives defends defence pact with India

Source : The Economic Times

Maldives defends defence pact with India
A photo of India's Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and Maldives Defence Minister Mariya Didi in Male on Sunday. | S Jaishankar via Twitter

Maldives has defended its defence pact and partnership with India notwithstanding the opposition protests. The Parliament Committee on National Security (241 Committee) of Maldives recently stated that agreements between Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) and the Indian military do not contain any clauses that cause concern to the island nation.

Opposition MP and Former Defense Minister Adam Shareef Umar had requested the Parliament review three agreements between MNDF and the Indian military to develop a dockyard in Uthuru Fila Falhu (UTF) base, an agreement to operate a Dornier aircraft with Indian assistance, and a hydrography agreement.

India and Maldives have upgraded their defence ties since Ibu Solih came was elected as the President in 2028. While Maldives Defence Minister visited India last week, the ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy participated in the first-ever Colombo Security Conclave (CSC) Focused Operation to enhance maritime security in the Indian Ocean region, along with Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Earlier this year India and the Maldives signed a defence Line of Credit agreement worth $50 million. The deal was signed during the visit by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to Male.

The defence Line of Credit will “facilitate capability building in the maritime domain”, Jaishankar had stated. The two sides had agreed to strengthen coordination in enhancing regional maritime security, said a Joint Statement that summed up the bilateral agreements. The defence and security collaboration will also focus on combating terrorism in “all its forms and manifestations”.

The two sides had also agreed to convene the first meeting of the Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism, countering Violent Extremism and De-radicalisation at the the earliest.

Indicating deepening security cooperation, an agreement to develop, support and maintain a Maldives National Defence Force Coast Guard Harbour at Sifvaru was also signed during Jaishankar’s visit.

India is a key power in the Indian Ocean region, with New Delhi remaining the net security provider, besides taking the lead in extending humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to several countries including Madagascar, Mozambique and Comoros besides Maldives and Sri Lanka. In June, the Sri Lankan Navy, Airforce and the Indian Coast Guard jointly doused a fire on MV X-Press Pearl, a Singapore-flagged cargo ship.

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