Exorcising the ghost of ‘India Out’, Maldives signed six key agreements with India during President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s visit to New Delhi from August 1 to 4. The agreements cover cooperation in the areas of cyber security; disaster management; capacity building of local governments; and facilitation in building police infrastructure.
The straightening of relations between the two countries was made possible by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Neigbhourhood First’ initiative as also the ‘India First’ foreign policy thrust by the Maldivian President. The ‘India Out’ campaign, aimed at targeting India’s involvement in various spheres in Maldives, is led by the supporters of Abdulla Yameen, the former pro-China President of the island nation.
PM Modi highlighted the need for further strengthening India-Maldives relations as the South Asian country has geographical proximity to the western coast of India, being at the centre of commercial sea-lanes running through the Indian Ocean. “The threat of trans-national crime, terrorism and drug trafficking in the Indian Ocean is serious. And therefore, close contact and coordination between India and Maldives in the field of defence and security is vital for the peace and stability of the entire region,” he said. The Prime Minister also announced that India will provide 24 vehicles and one naval boat for the Maldives Security Force. It will also cooperate in building police facilities in 61 islands of Maldives, he said.
Further, India announced a line of credit of $100 million for Maldives for the completion of development projects and promised that it will continue as “first responder” to any crisis in the country. Complimenting PM Modi’s support and vision and significance of India-Maldives relations, President Solih said, “Our relationship with India will always be of the highest priority… The Maldives will always remain a true friend of India, firmly committed to our shared vision of peace and development in our countries and our region”. India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links steeped in antiquity. The relations have been close, cordial and multi-dimensional. India was among the first to recognize Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country.
Earlier this year in April, while addressing the Young Diplomats of Turkmenistan at The Institute Of International Relations in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, former President Ram Nath Kovind had emphasised that one of the permanent principle of India’s foreign policy during the Modi era has been the ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy. “The overarching philosophy of India’s engagement with its neighbours is to ensure that they also benefit from our economic development and growth. Thus, the focus of our Neighbourhood First policy is to enhance connectivity, augment trade and investment, and build a secure and stable neighbourhood,”he had said.
The threat of transnational crime, terrorism and drug trafficking in the Indian Ocean is serious. And therefore, close contact and coordination between India and Maldives in the field of defence and security is vital
Narendra ModiPrime Minister of India
Our relationship with India will always be of the highest priority…The Maldives will always remain a true friend of India, firmly committed to our shared vision of peace and development