To counter the threat of transnational crime, terrorism and drug trafficking in the Indian Ocean region, India on Tuesday said it will give 24 vehicles and one naval boat to the Maldives Security Force and help train the island-nation’s security personnel.
After holding bilateral talks with visiting Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “The threat of transnational crime, terrorism and drug trafficking in the Indian Ocean is serious. And therefore, close contact and coordination between India and Maldives in the field of defence and security is vital for peace and stability of the entire region.”
Modi said: “We have increased our cooperation against all these common challenges. It also includes capacity building and training support for Maldivian security officials. I am happy to announce that India will provide 24 vehicles and one naval boat for the Maldives Security Force. We will also cooperate in building police facilities on 61 islands of Maldives.”
Solih said Maldives will always remain “a true friend” India, “firmly committed to our shared vision of peace and development…” The joint statement said, “India-Maldives defence and security partnership is time-tested and is the leading example of regional cooperation in areas of transnational crimes and disaster relief. This partnership is a force for stability in the Indian Ocean Region. Recognizing that the security of India and the Maldives are inter-linked, the two leaders reiterated their assurance to be mindful of each other’s concerns on the security and stability of the region; and to not allow their respective territories to be used for any activity inimical to the other.”
The two leaders also welcomed the launch of the Greater Male Connectivity Project, a $500 million project funded by New Delhi. Both leaders participated in the virtual “pouring of the first concrete” ceremony of the $500-million Greater Male Connectivity Project, being built under grant and concessional loan support from India.
“The two leaders directed officials to ensure timely completion of this largest landmark infrastructure project in Maldives that will enhance mobility between Male, Villingili, Gulhifalhu and Thilafushi islands, cut down logistics cost and drive people-centric economic growth, which will be a symbol of enduring friendship between the two countries,” the joint statement said.
The countries signed six agreements to expand cooperation in a range of areas, including cybersecurity, capacity building, housing, disaster management and infrastructure development in the Maldives. Modi announced $100 million financial aid to help the island-nation complete certain infrastructure projects.
Thanking Delhi for its “generous assistance” when his country was reeling under the impact of Covid-19, Solih said, “Was it not for generous assistance received in the form of budgetary support, medical assistance and the Covishield vaccines by India, our economic recovery would have been hard and long.”