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Maldives to have "very limited" defence ties with China: Maldivian Defence Minister

ANI | Updated: Jan 25, 2019 19:26 IST

New Delhi, January 25 (ANI) Seeking to reassure India, Maldives said on Friday that its defence ties with China would be "very limited" and stronger with New Delhi.
Maldivian Defence Minister Mariyam Ahmed Didi, who is on a three-day visit here, spoke about increasing ties with India and said the coastal surveillance radars given by India were in the process of being installed in her country.
The radars would help in enhancing the security of Maldives and take care of any illegal activities which may be happening around her country, she said.
"I do not think there is anything to worry for the Indian government as our both governments share the same values... Of course, China is an important development partner but our engagement with the Chinese in that sense, in the defence sector, would be very limited in the future," Didi told ANI here.
The Minister stated this when asked about apprehensions in India that Maldives was tilting towards China.
Asked if the Maldives would want to have more engagement with India, she said, "more with India, Yes."
The Minister is on her maiden visit to India and is accompanied by the Chief of Maldivian National Defence Forces Maj Gen Abdulla Shamaal and other senior military personnel.
The Minister said the people of Maldives want stronger ties with democratic countries like India.
Asked if the Maldivian government would want more helicopters from India, she said the issue will be discussed along with the Dornier aircraft, which has been offered by New Delhi for maritime surveillance operations.
"The choppers have been very useful as recently, when the Mayor of Addu had gone missing in the sea, the choppers helped us locate him. They have also helped in saving the lives of ten people. The people want these services and they are very helpful," the Minister said.
India has deployed two ALH Dhruv helicopters in the Maldives including one each from the Indian Coast Guard and the Indian Navy.
On the coastal surveillance radar installation in the Maldives, the Minister said the process had started during the regime of President Abdulla Yameen but was stalled as the ties between the two countries "had soured".
She expressed hope that the important project would help in enhancing overall security scenario in her country. (ANI)