Millennium Post

Will remain sensitive towards India's strategic concerns, says Maldives

Male: The Maldives on Monday reaffirmed its "India-First Policy , saying it looks forward to working closely with India on all issues and will remain sensitive towards its security and strategic concerns as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held talks with the country's top leadership.

The Maldivian leaders also expressed commitment to support India's efforts to combat terrorism, particularly cross-border terrorism, and crimes such as piracy, organised crime, narcotic drugs and human trafficking.

Swaraj arrived here on Sunday on a two-day visit, the first full-fledged bilateral trip from India to the strategically located Indian Ocean island nation after the government of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih came to power in November last year. She held talks with President Solih, Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid, former President Mohamed Nasheed and other top leaders.

The External Affairs Minister and Solih took stock of the progress made in bilateral relations since his visit to India in December 2018.

Swaraj and her Maldivian counterpart Shahid during their meeting on Sunday discussed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and also noted the number of high level exchanges, between the two countries over the past three months. They recalled the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the swearing-in ceremony of President Solih in November as well as his visit to India in December.

The bilateral talks between the Foreign Ministers was followed by a joint ministerial meeting in which Swaraj held discussions with Shahid, Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi, Finance

Minister Ibrahim Ameer and other ministers. She also met Maldivian Home Minister Imran Abdulla on Monday and discussed steps to continue the upward trajectory in bilateral relationship.

"Foreign Minister Shahid reiterated his government's "India-First Policy and said that his Government looks forward to working closely with the Government of India on all issues.

He also reiterated that the Government of Maldives would remain sensitive towards India's security and strategic concerns, " according to a joint statement. Maldives is an important country for India's maritime security and there have been concerns in India over China's growing influence over the country in the last few years.

The two foreign ministers agreed on the importance of maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean Region, and to strengthen coordination in enhancing regional maritime security.

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