New Delhi, May 25 (PTI) The government on Tuesday approved the opening of a new consulate in the Maldivian city of Addu this year to boost India's diplomatic presence in the strategically-located island nation.
The decision to set up the first consulate in the Maldives came amid China's consistent efforts to increase its influence in the country.
'The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the opening of a new consulate general of India in Addu City, Maldives in 2021,' an official statement said, adding the country occupies an important place in India's 'Neighbourhood First Policy'.
It said the opening of the consulate will help augment India's diplomatic presence in the Maldives and make it commensurate with the 'existing and aspired level' of engagement.
The government described the decision to open the new consulate as a 'forward-looking step' in pursuit of India's national priority of growth and development for all.
'This is also a forward-looking step in pursuit of our national priority of growth and development or 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas'. Augmentation of India's diplomatic presence will, inter-alia, provide market access for Indian companies and bolster Indian exports of goods and services,' it said.
'This would have a direct impact in augmenting domestic production and employment in line with our goal of a self-reliant India or 'Atmanirbhar Bharat',' the government said.
Maldives is one of India's key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region and occupies a central and special place in the prime minister's vision of 'SAGAR' -- 'Security and Growth for All in the Region'.
Currently, India is developing projects worth USD 2 billion covering a large number of areas like ports, roads, bridges, water and sanitation systems as well as socio-economic development.
The government said the momentum and energy in the bilateral relationship reached 'unprecedented levels' under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and President Ibrahim Solih.
The ties between India and Maldives came under strain during the Abdulla Yameen regime. Yameen was perceived to be close to China.
Some decisions by Yameen including the imposition of restrictions on work visas for Indians and the signing of a new Free Trade Agreement with Beijing also did not go down well with New Delhi.
However, the relations were back on track after Solih took charge of the country in November 2018. PTI MPB AAR AAR