India and Maldives on Tuesday discussed strategic perspectives for maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean region amidst China’s efforts to increase its footprint even as Maldivian Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim briefed the Indian side of the recent developments in his country.
On his first official visit, Asim during his meeting with his counterpart Sushma Swaraj also communicated details of his country’s engagement with the UN and the Special Envoy of the Commonwealth ahead of the crucial meet of Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) in New York next month.
The two ministers reaffirmed their resolve to continue strengthening the bilateral partnership between India and Maldives, with the visiting dignitary emphasising that his visit was in line with the “India first” policy of Maldives.
Asim also apprised Swaraj of the preparations for the Maldives Investment Forum to be held in New Delhi later this year. On her part, Swaraj reiterated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s view that India wants all its neighbours to benefit from the country’s economic growth and development.
“The Ministers also exchanged views on the consonance in the strategic perspectives of the two countries to maintain peace and security in the Indian Ocean region,” MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
A career diplomat, Asim was appointed to the post last month after his predecessor Dunya Maumoon, daughter of former Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, quit office protesting against the government’s plan to implement death penalty.
In their discussions, the two ministers took note of the high-level exchanges in recent weeks between the two countries and reviewed progress on various aspects of the bilateral relationship.
Special Envoy of the Prime Minister on Counter-terrorism had visited Maldives in mid-July 2016 and Defence Secretary made a trip to Male for the 1st India-Maldives Defence Cooperation Dialogue on July 17-18, 2016.
Swarup said the Maldivian Foreign Minister also shared his assessment of recent developments in his country and their engagement with the UN and the Special Envoy of the Commonwealth in the context of the forthcoming CMAG meeting in New York, on the sidelines of the UNGA.
The September meeting assumes significance given that the CMAG had expressed concern over the prevailing political situation in Maldives in its April meeting and sought urgent measures in various areas including detention of political leaders.
India is also part of the group and is understood to have made efforts to “tone-down” the severity of the statement.
However, the UK has already indicated that if the Group finds that “sufficient steps” for reform have not been taken by Maldives by September, it will “carefully consider appropriate bilateral action” to help support reform efforts there.
Asim also called on Vice President Hamid Ansari in the afternoon.