Maldives, US cooperation ‘crucial’ to promote Indian Ocean region security

  • Maldives continues to receive support from the U.S. government in efforts to restore democratic values and rule of law
  • Maldives also continues to closely cooperate on matters of security
  • Bilateral partnership between both countries has reached a new peak

K. Male' 2020 Oct 29 | Thu 16:59 local 2,896

Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid - Foreign Ministry

The stronger partnership between the Unites States of America and the Maldives, is crucial for promoting security in the Indian Ocean region, says Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdulla Shahid.

He made this remark during a press briefing hosted following the brief visit of U.S. Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo to the Maldives on Wednesday afternoon.

The Maldives foreign minister and U.S. Secretary of State engaged in discussions on Wednesday afternoon, during which FM Shahid reiterated that the partnership between the U.S. and Maldives is crucial for promoting security in the Indian Ocean, especially in the fight against radicalization, violent extremism and terrorism.

Going on to emphasize his strong belief that the peace and security of Maldives is closely intertwined with that of peace and security of the Indian Ocean, the minister stated that a stronger, prosperous, democratic and a stable Maldives is “integral to the peace and security of the Indian Ocean”.

At the same time, stability in the Indian ocean is fundamental to the security and development of the Maldives, said FM Shahid.

Highlighting that both countries have always enjoyed a robust partnership on security measures which is evident from the joint military exercises that were initiated in the early 1990s, FM Shahid said that the scope and frequency of these exercises have increased over the years.

Last year, we signed a memorandum of agreement on Aviation Security Cooperation with the U.S. to strengthen the capabilities of the Maldives law enforcement bodies, to combat terrorism and to ensure the broader safety of Maldivians and foreign visitors alike. Just recently, our ministry of defense and the U.S. department of defense have signed a framework agreement which reflects both countries’ intent on strengthening defense-cooperation and maintaining the peace and security of the broader, Indo-Pacific region. It was therefore a pleasure to build on these issues at the bilateral discussions today to further solidify our security cooperation, especially in the area of countering terrorism.”

~ Abdulla Shahid, Maldives Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Further, the minister shed light on the fact that the bilateral partnership between both countries has reached a new peak, adding that one of his earliest visits abroad as a foreign minister during the current administration, was to Washington D.C which signifies the importance President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration attaches to revitalize friendship and cooperation with the U.S.

Discussions held between the pair on Wednesday also touched down on ways through which the enduring friendship ma be strengthened and long-standing relations, expanded.

Going on to shed light on the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the country’s economic growth, FM Shahid thanked the government of U.S. for the numerous contributions, including the donation of 60 critical-care ventilators, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well as testing equipment that has amplified the efforts of frontline workers in the healthcare system to manage this pandemic better.

We are also grateful for the support that the U.S. has extended towards our economic recovery efforts. This pandemic has proven that the best and indeed the only way to move forward, is together, no country is completely self-reliant, hence, concerted global efforts are necessary to overcome the current challenges. It has also given us an opportunity to re-orient our approach to development and focus on building a more resilient world, this is why Solih has constituted a national taskforce on response and recovery prioritizing on building resilience into our post-covid action plan, this will ensure that the development gains we have made over the past decades are preserved and the key development projects promised and planned, go forward without delay. Last year the U.S. extended a grant aid of USD 20 million through its USAID programme to assist the Maldives in public finance management to strengthen our democratic institutions and empower our women and youth. We are happy to learn that the U.S. has decided on increasing this support further, this would go a long way especially when we are focusing on building back better, following the impacts of the pandemic.”

~ Abdulla Shahid, Maldives Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Maldives has also requested support from U.S. to amplify the call for a suspension on all direct and guaranteed debt services and payments under the G20 initiative, firstly for the extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative G20 countries, and secondly, to include private creditors and guaranteed-debt of countries eligible for it, including the Maldives, said FM Shahid.

He also highlighted the importance the island nation attaches to urgently address climate change which is an existential threat to Maldives.

Both countries have also restarted bilateral trade talks to further commercial ties between both countries and Maldives continues to receive support from the U.S. government in efforts to restore democratic values and rule of law, Maldives also continues to closely cooperate on matters of security, said the minister.

I also highlighted on the instrumental role the U.S. plays in our efforts to secure higher education opportunities for the Maldivian youth. Many of our leaders in the private and public sector today a beneficiaries of the U.S. education system. As a special request from our youth I convey to the secretary, their keen desire to see a revival of the education programs we once enjoyed from the USAID. We further agreed to step up cooperation on important multilateral issues and to enhance our cooperation in the United Nations. We have supported and continue to support each other on a number of bilateral and multilateral issues and it is our hope that this relationship continues to flourish. I am confident that the high-level interactions such as this would certainly pave way to develop a stronger relationship between both our countries. Our cooperation and friendship are testament to the power of partnership between countries irrespective of size. I look forward to working closely with you Mr. Secretary to further strengthen the relationship between our two countries.”

~ Abdulla Shahid, Maldives Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Last updated at: 3 weeks ago | Reviewed by: Aishath Shaany

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