With the recent improvement in relations, India and the Maldives will take forward several pending measures to promote defence cooperation in the next few months. Recent Developments in India-Maldives Relation:
- In light of improving defence cooperation, lease of a Dornier aircraft is underway.
- Broad-Based humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) exercise between India and Maldives.
- Work on the radar stations to plug the Maldives into India’s coastal radar chain is progressing fast.
- There is an aim to bring the Maldives under India’s coastal radar chain network.
- In the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, India began setting up the coastal radar chain network to monitor the movement of traffic on the high seas.
- Mauritius, Seychelles and Sri Lanka have already been part of the network.
- At the Goa Maritime Conclave, hosted recently by the Navy for Indian Ocean littoral states, the major focus was on information-sharing. India offered to share real-time movement of maritime traffic.
- Of late, the Navy has stepped up cooperation with the countries in the region.
- Terrorism is a major threat to the Maldives, and maritime security is the top-most concern.
India-Maldives Bilateral Relation
- India’s Neighbourhood First Policy: India announced a financial assistance package of $1.4 billion for the Maldives in the form of budgetary support, currency swap agreements and concessional lines of credit to fulfil socio-economic development programmes.
- Maldives’ India-First Policy: President of Maldives reaffirmed his government policy and commitment to working together closely with India. He identified various areas for developmental cooperation, including private sector involvement in the development of housing and infrastructure, water and sewerage systems in the outlying islands, healthcare, education and tourism.
- Connectivity: Both the leaders of India and Maldives emphasized the need to improve connectivity between the two countries through the establishment of enabling infrastructure that would promote the exchange of goods and services, information, ideas, culture and people.
- Visa Facilitation Agreement: Recognizing the importance of facilitating people-to-people exchanges and travel, the two leaders welcomed the new agreement on Visa Facilitation.
- Indo-Pacific Region: leaders of both countries agreed on the importance of maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean Region. They reiterated their assurance of being mindful of each other’s concerns and aspirations for the stability of the region and not allowing their respective territories to be used for any activity inimical to the other.
- Terrorism: Both India and Maldives reaffirmed their unwavering commitment and support for increased cooperation in combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations both within the region and elsewhere.
- Global Issues: India and Maldive reiterated the importance of an effective multilateral system as a key factor in tackling global challenges. They recognized the need to pursue reform of the main UN bodies, including the revitalization of the UN General Assembly and expansion of the UN Security Council.
- Economy: The two countries underscored the need for strengthening and reforming of multilateral financial institutions and enhancing the voice and participation of developing countries in international economic decision-making.