Male, Feb 21 (PTI) India on Sunday reiterated its commitment to the Maldives' security and signed a USD 50 million defence Line of Credit agreement with it to boost the maritime capabilities of the strategic island nation.
The USD 50 million credit line agreement for defence projects was signed between the Finance Ministry of Maldives and the Export Import Bank of India.
The signing of the agreement took place after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held talks with Maldivian Defence Minister Mariya Didi, Minister of Finance Ibrahim Ameer, Minister of Economic Development Fayyaz Ismail and Minister of National Planning, Housing and Infrastructure Mohamed Aslam.
Jaishnakar, who is here on a two-day visit, held a 'cordial meeting' with the Defence Minister.
'Useful exchange on our defence cooperation. India will always be a reliable security partner for the Maldives,' Jaishankar tweeted.
After their talks, Jaishankar and Didi signed an agreement to develop a Coastguard harbour and dockyard at the Uthuru Thila Falhu (UTF) naval base.
The agreement was signed under a defence action plan signed in 2016 by then-President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom during a visit to India.
In addition to the harbour and dockyard, India will also support the development of other infrastructure needed for the harbour, support the development of communications resources and radar services, and provide training.
'Glad to sign with Defence Minister @MariyaDidi the UTF Harbour Project agreement. Will strengthen Maldivian Coast Guard capability and facilitate regional HADR ( Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) efforts. Partners in development, partners in security,' he said.
Didi said it was a great pleasure to welcome Jaishankar.
'From time immemorial Defence Cooperation has been a key element of the sisterly relationship that exists between India and the Maldives. The Coast Guard Harbour & Dockyard at SIFAVARU will mark another significant milestone,' she tweeted.
Jaishankar also witnessed the signing of a project execution contract for the construction of roads in Addu, the second-largest urban area in the Maldives in terms of population.
'Underscores the importance of connectivity in our Maldives partnership,' he tweeted.
Jaishankar also called on Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and reaffirmed India's fullest commitment as a comprehensive development partner of the island nation during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Jaishankar on Saturday handed over 100,000 additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the Maldives.
After holding talks with President Solih, Jaishankar tweeted, 'Thank President @ibusolih for receiving me. Conveyed PM’s greetings. Reiterated our fullest commitment as comprehensive development partners - during COVID and beyond.' 'Always a pleasure to meet my friend and Indian EAM @DrSJaishankar . In our discussions today, I conveyed our thanks to PM @narendramodi and the people of India for the generous assistance announced during the EAM’s visit including an additional 100,000 doses of Covishied vaccine,' Solih tweeted.
Jaishankar also met the Speaker of Maldivian Parliament Mohamed Nasheed.
'Delighted to meet Speaker @MohamedNasheed. As always full of ideas & energy. Told me that building democracy was a big project in the Maldives. And that India is a valuable development assistance partner,' Jaishankar tweeted.
Nasheed was the first democratically-elected President of the country.
The External Affairs Minister also met with a delegation of leaders from the Progressive Party of Maldives and the People's National Congress and underlined that India was a long-standing and reliable partner of the Maldives in development and democracy. PTI NSA AKJ NSA