India reinforces ties with Maldives against Chinese influence
New Delhi, Aug 2 (EFE).- India reaffirmed on Tuesday its ties to neighboring Maldives during an official visit of the country’s president, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, to counter China’s influence in the Indian Ocean, and against the backdrop of a Maldivian opposition campaign against New Delhi.
“The Maldives will always remain a true friend of India firmly committed to our shared vision of peace in our countries and in our region,” Solih said in a ceremony in New Delhi with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The two countries signed several memoranda of understanding in areas such as bilateral cooperation, trade, and cybersecurity, while India gave 24 vehicles to the archipelago’s defense forces, according to the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The agreements signed Tuesday also include a statement of intent by India’s Exim Bank for a $119 million loan for social housing construction in the Maldives.
“The threat of trans-national crime, terrorism and drug trafficking is serious in the Indian Ocean. And therefore, close contact and coordination between India and Maldives in the field of defense and security is vital for the peace and stability of the entire region,” said Modi.
The two leaders have appeared to be in sync in recent years, while New Delhi has increased its economic support for Male to strengthen its influence against China’s investments in the archipelago.
However, the relationship between India and Maldives has been challenged by opposition leader and former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen.
Earlier this year, the opposition launched a campaign “India Out” against the military presence of the neighboring country.
Solih accused Yameen, closer to Beijing than to New Delhi during his tenure between 2013 and 2018, of trying to weaken bilateral relations with India, and in April ordered the campaign to be stopped. EFE