India and Maldives resolve to combat terror and enhance regional maritime security
India has also signed an agreement to develop, support and maintain a Maldives National Defence Force Coast Guard Harbour
Building on the strong defence ties between the two countries, India and Maldives have resolved to strengthen coordination in enhancing regional maritime security and combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestation.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid underscored the importance of defence and security cooperation and agreed on the importance of maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean Region.
“They decided to strengthen coordination in enhancing regional maritime security, including on combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including cross border terrorism and maintaining peace in the region to ensure freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean,” a Joint Press Statement issued today after Jaishankar's two-day visit to Maldives said.
The statement added that Jaishankar and Shahid also agreed to work together to convene the first meeting of the Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism, countering Violent Extremism and Deradicalisation at the earliest.
The External Affairs Minister also met Maldivian Defence Minister Mariya Didi and reviewed the various facets of defence and security cooperation.
"India will always be a reliable security partner. For Maldives," Jaishankar tweeted, describing the meeting as a "useful exchange on our defence cooperation".
Prioritizing cooperation in the maritime domain, the two countries signed an agreement to develop, support and maintain a Maldives National Defence Force Coast Guard Harbour at Sifvaru (Uthuru Thilafalhu).
"Glad to sign with Defence Minister
the UTF Harbour Project agreement. Will strengthen Maldivian Coast Guard capability and facilitate regional HADR efforts. Partners in development, partners in security," Jaishankar wrote on Twitter.
Glad to sign with Defence Minister @MariyaDidi the UTF Harbour Project agreement. Will strengthen Maldivian Coast Guard capability and facilitate regional HADR efforts. Partners in development, partners in security. pic.twitter.com/dYhpVZDd7e— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) February 21, 2021
This agreement was pursuant to repeated requests by Maldives for assistance from India for enhancing capability of the latter’s Defence forces in exercising jurisdiction and undertaking maritime surveillance of its Exclusive Economic Zone and islands, the joint statement noted.
The agreement for development of the Coast Guard Harbour at Sifvaru is in accordance with the Action Plan for Defence Cooperation signed in 2016 between both countries, and subsequent discussions held during the Defence Cooperation Dialogues in July 2016 and January 2019.
It is also in agreement with the Terms of Reference for the Project discussed during the Joint Staff Talks in June 2018, January 2019, and June 2019, and agreed in September 2019.
A $50 million Dollar Credit Line Agreement between the Government of Maldives and EXIM Bank India was also signed for defence projects.
Welcoming the signing of the agreement, Jaishankar said it would facilitate capability building in the maritime domain.