India announces $1.4 bn assistance to Maldives
New Delhi: With Maldives reeling under mounting Chinese debt, India on Monday announced a USD 1.4 billion financial assistance to the island nation and inked four pacts with it after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih held "successful" talks with an aim to reset ties.
The two countries also agreed to remain mindful of each other's concerns and aspirations for the stability of the Indian Ocean region and not allow their respective territories to be used for any activity inimical to their interests.
In his media statement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed Solih's victory in the presidential election in Maldives and assured him that India will always stand behind the island nation in its quest for peace and development.
"India will always stand by you in your government's ambitious efforts to change the lives of the Maldivian people. For the social and economic development of Maldives, India will extend budget support, currency swap and lines of credit worth USD 1.4 billion," Modi said.
He said there are "infinite possibilities" in expanding ties between the two neighbours.
Solih's visit here within a month after taking charge of the high office is seen as an effort by his government to repair ties with India which came under severe strain during the presidentship of Abdulla Yameen, who was known to be close to China.
"The two leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation to enhance maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region through coordinated patrolling and aerial surveillance, exchange of information and capacity building," said an Indian-Maldives joint statement. The resolve by the two sides to deepen maritime ties in the Indian Ocean assumes significance as China has been ramping up its military presence in the region. The statement said the two leaders also recognised that the security interests of both the countries were interlinked and reiterated their assurance of being mindful of each other's concerns and aspirations for the stability of the region.
The four agreements signed between the two countries will provide for easy facilitation of visas and cooperation in areas of cultural, agri-business and information technology.
In the talks, Solih reaffirmed his government's 'India-First Policy', and commitment to working together closely with India. The Maldivian President also reiterated his country's support for India's candidature for permanent membership.