Defence Minister of India Rajnath Singh has ended a fruitful visit to the Maldives.
The High Commission of India in the Maldives revealed that Minister Singh departed after the conclusion of a productive visit, on Wednesday.
The visit highlighted the remarkable growth in defence relations between Maldives and India in the last few years, according to the High Commission of India.
The high commission went on to reveal that the visit was marked by several positive outcomes including the handing over of the offshore patrol vessel and landing craft, the groundbreaking and foundation-stone laying of ‘Ekatha Harbor’ and the grant support extended to the Ministry of Defence and National Security for the building and support for radar stations.
The Indian Defence Minister arrived on the three-day official visit to Maldives on May 1, upon the invitation of Minister of Defence and National Security Mariya Ahmed Didi.
This marked the first official visit by Minister Singh, since assuming office.
He was welcomed upon arrival at the Velana International Airport (VIA), by his Maldivian counterpart, who was accompanied by the Chief of Defence Force Major General Abdulla Shamaal.
During the trip conducted with an aim to bolster defence ties, bilateral talks were held between the two governments in a bid to enhance defence cooperation and strengthen the long-standing defence and security partnership between the two countries.
Further, the Indian Defence Minister and his Maldivian counterpart also attended a formal ceremony to hand over an Offshore Patrol Vessel, along with an assault landing craft and inaugurate the development project of the MNDF Coast Guard Harbor and repair facility at Sifavaru.
The Indian Defence Minister also met with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid during the trip.
The Indian Defence Minister’s visit represented a significant milestone in the relationship between the two countries as it brought a new level of dynamism to the already existing defence ties.
The visit further enhanced the long-standing defence ties between the Maldives and India.
During the bilateral talks held with his Maldivian counterpart, discussions were held on a wide range of regional and global security issues of mutual concern and agreed to expand cooperation in the defence and security domains.
The two ministers also reaffirmed the significance of maintaining peace, stability and security in the region, and recognized the need to work together to address common security challenges.
Further, the significance of respecting international law and the rules-based international order was also a topic of discussion. The ministers expressed their mutual commitment to uphold these principles.
Welcoming the progress made in ongoing defence cooperation between Maldives and India including joint exercises and exchanges of visits by military officials, the two ministers shed light on the significance of sharing best practices and expertise in areas such as counterterrorism, disaster management, cybersecurity, and maritime security. Minister Singh and Minister Mariya also agreed to explore new avenues for cooperation, including in the areas of defence trade, capacity building and joint exercises. Discussions also touched upon the need to promote people-to-people contacts and exchanges between the armed forces of both countries.
As part of his meeting with President Solih, the Maldivian president spoke fondly of the long history of close cooperation between Maldives and India, adding that the relationship between the two countries has been “remarkable” during his tenure, with several high-level visits conducted as well as improved people-to-people contact.
Minister Singh expressed confidence that the partnership between Maldives and India would continue in defence cooperation. He noted that the commissioning of the Coast Guard Ship ‘Huravee’ and the Landing Craft gifted during the Defence Minister’s visit would enhance the Maldives’ capabilities in maritime security.
Applauding the significant progress achieved in the hydrography surveys being conducted with assistance from India, President Solih expressed gratitude to the Indian government for providing the equipment to undertake the study.
The Indian Defence Minister stated that three rounds of surveys were conducted to support the blue economy initiative of the government of Maldives and added that the charts compiled from the surveys have since been shared with the Maldivian government. The Indian Defence Minister assured India’s assistance in the regular update of the charts.
The meeting also saw President Solih expressing gratitude to the government of India for the continued support and aid extended to the Maldives in several sectors.
He stressed that this mirrored India’s special regard for the Maldives and reiterated the commitment of his government for further solidifying the ties.
Minister Singh also spoke regarding the progress of several development initiative undertaken by the government of India in the Maldives.
As part of the visit, President Solih commissioned the India-gifted patrol vessel, on Tuesday during a ceremony that took place at the port area of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF)’s Coast Guard Ships in Hulhumalé. The ceremony was joined by Indian High Commissioner Munu Mahawar as well as a delegation of the Indian government and senior officials of MNDF. The Indian Defence Minister delivered the offshore patrol vessel and landing craft donated by the Indian government to the Maldives, to his Maldivian counterpart.
The visit also saw the laying of the foundation stone for the MNDF Coast Guard ‘Ekatha Harbor’ by Minister Singh and Minister Didi.
The development of the Coast Guard harbor and repair facility at Sifavaru is one of the biggest grant-in-aid projects of India.
During his meeting with FM Shahid, they reviewed the ongoing defence cooperation between Maldives and India.
Shedding light on the prominent role played by the government of India in enhancing the capacities of defence and security forces of Maldives, FM Shahid expressed deep appreciation to India’s significant contributions in bolstering the capacities of Maldives’ security forces.
Prior to his departure, Minister Singh expressed gratitude for the warm and cordial hospitality accorded to him and his delegation.