Rajnath Singh in Maldives: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh handed over a Landing Craft Assault ship and a Fast Patrol Vessel to the Maldives National Defence Forces (MNDF) on Tuesday. This comes on the second day of the 3-day visit of India’s Defence Minister to the South Asian country.
According to reports, the Fast Patrol Vessel is capable of coastal and offshore surveillance at high speeds. It was commissioned as the MNDF Coast Guard ship Huravee. President of Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi were in attendance during the occasion. “Delighted to handover a Fast Patrol Vessel and a Landing Craft Assault ship to Maldives today. It is a symbol of our shared commitment towards peace & security in the Indian Ocean Region,” Rajnath Singh wrote on Twitter.
Maldives hails the development
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives hailed the development and said the country is committed to further bolstering the relationship between and in defence security cooperation.” “Minister @abdulla_shahid attends the handover ceremony of the Offshore Patrol Vessel Coast Guard Ship Huravee and Landing Craft from the Government of #India. Maldives is committed to further strengthening the relationship between and in defence security cooperation (sic),” it wrote on Twitter.
Speaking on the occasion, Rajnath Singh described the handing over of the two ‘Made in India’ platforms as a symbol of the shared commitment of India and the Maldives towards peace and security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). He stated that India, through a robust defence ecosystem, has significantly enhanced its manufacturing capabilities to further support the capacity building of partner countries, as per an official release of the Ministry of Defence.
“India has emerged as a leading defence exporter in recent years. A defence manufacturing ecosystem has been created which has the advantage of abundant technical manpower. We produce world-class equipment to meet not only our own needs but also for exports. India offers an enhanced defence partnership to friendly foreign countries, that is accommodative of their national priorities and capacities. We wish to create symbiotic relationships where we can learn from each other, grow together and create a win-win situation for all. India’s commitment to support the Maldives will only get stronger with time,” the Defence Minister said.
‘Ties based twin policies of ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘SAGAR”
On India’s strong defence cooperation with the nation, Rajnath Singh asserted that the ties emanate from the twin policies of ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region). He recalled Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Maldives in June 2019, during which he emphasised that “‘Neighbourhood First’ is our priority and in the neighbourhood, ‘Maldives is the priority’.”
The Defence Minister called for enhanced cooperation among nations in the IOR to address the common challenges faced by the region. “The Indian Ocean is our shared space. The primary responsibility for peace, stability and prosperity in the region rests with those who live in the region. Peace and security of a region are best secured with cooperation and collaboration of the regional players,” he said.
Singh identified sustainable exploitation of resources and climate change as the most important common challenges faced by the IOR. He called for collaborative efforts towards ensuring that the maritime expanse of the Indian Ocean is peaceful and the resources are optimally harnessed for regional prosperity. Sustainable exploitation of maritime resources is an important means for sustained growth and development of nations across the IOR, he said.
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India – Maldives Relations
It should be noted here that India and Maldives are neighbours sharing a maritime border. The relations between both countries have been friendly and close in strategic, economic and military cooperation. Further, India continues to contribute to maintaining security on the island nation. s. India was among the first to recognise Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country. India established its mission at the level of CDA in 1972 and resident High Commissioner in 1980. The Maldives opened a full-fledged High Commission in New Delhi in November 2004, at that time one of its only four diplomatic missions worldwide. Bilateral relations have been nurtured and strengthened by regular contacts at the highest levels. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, almost all the Prime Ministers of India visited the Maldives.
(With ANI inputs)