Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday announced a $1.4 billion aid for the Maldives following his meeting with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to bail out the island country from an economic crisis. The two countries also inked four pacts, including one on visa facilitation.
In his second meeting with Solih in a month, Modi asserted that New Delhi wanted to better trade ties with Male, saying there was a multitude of opportunities for Indian companies to tap in the island nation.
“We held successful talks in a cordial atmosphere. We vowed to strengthen ties. We want greater trade ties with the Maldives. There are increasing opportunities for Indian companies in the island nation,” the PM said in a joint briefing with Solih after holding bilateral talks.
On Sunday, Solih arrived on a three-day state visit, his first overseas trip after taking over as president on November 17. PM Modi said India was extending $1.4 billion as budget support, currency swap and line of credit for the social and economic development of Maldives.
This comes after former president Mohamed Nasheed said last month that the new Solih-led government would pull out of the “lopsided” free trade agreement (FTA) with China signed by Yameen.
In a statement aimed at assuaging the concerns stemming out of China’s assertive activities in the Indian Ocean, Modi said both sides would work together to further strengthen cooperation in the Indian Ocean region. “We will not allow our countries to be used for activities which can be harmful to each other’s interests,” Modi said.
On his part, Solih said the two sides agreed to strengthen maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean region through coordinated patrol and aerial surveillance.