Male [Maldives], April 25 (ANI): Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar chose the Maldives for his first overseas visit, emphasising the significance of the bilateral partnership between the two countries as India-Maldives share common perspectives on maritime security issues.
During his three-day visit, Admiral Hari Kumar called on President Ibrahim Mohamad Solih, Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid, and Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi, besides the Chief of Defence Force, Major General Abdulla Shamaal to boost cooperation between the Indian Navy and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) in the area of maritime information, maritime domain awareness, bilateral maritime agreements, and capacity-building initiatives.
Mariya Didi thanked India for providing swift, unconditional support to the island nation at all times and highlighted that the India-Maldives defence partnership is at its pinnacle, Policy Research Group reported.
The Maldives is not just among India's foremost development partners in South Asia but also a reliable and trustworthy defence and security partner, more so since defence partnership is emerging critical to maintaining peace and stability in the Southern Indian Ocean Region, Policy Research Group reported further.
"CNS's first overseas visit, guided by Prime Minister's 'Five S' Vision, further consolidated the long-standing bilateral relations between two close maritime neighbours," the spokesperson of the Indian Navy stated in a Twitter post.
"New avenues have been identified for expanding the scope of bilateral cooperation in defence and maritime domain," he added.
Admiral Hari Kumar unveiled the first 'Navigation Chart' jointly produced by India and Maldives and handed over hydrography equipment to consolidate the organic capabilities of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF). The Indian Navy chief hosted a reception onboard the INS Sutlej (on April 18), which is presently conducting a joint hydrographic survey in Maldivian waters.
According to Policy Research Group, India's step-up in defence and strategic cooperation has brought the Maldives closer to its broader Indo-Pacific security space in South Asia. And this defence and security partnership can enhance the Maldives' strategic role in the Indo-Pacific security space.
There have been several high-level defence visits between the two countries.
Development cooperation has been an imperative pillar of the Indo-Maldives relationship. New Delhi has provided Lines of Credit of over USD 1.2 billion for infrastructure development besides several grants for community development projects in the island nation.
Since 1988, defence and security have been major areas of cooperation between India and the Maldives. This cooperation extends to assisting the Maldives with defence training and equipment requirements. India provides the largest number of training opportunities for MNDF personnel, meeting almost 70 per cent of their defence training requirements, POREG reported.
Apart from defence and security partnerships, India and Maldives have in recent times expanded their strategic cooperation including focusing on counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency. (ANI)