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Home / News / India /  India signs $50-mn pact to boost Maldives’ naval capabilities

New Delhi: India has signed an agreement with the Maldives to extend a $50-million line of credit to strengthen Male’s maritime capabilities, cementing New Delhi’s position as a key defence partner of the archipelago nation.

A total of five agreements were signed between the two countries over the weekend during Indian foreign minister S. Jaishankar’s two-day visit to Male which concluded on Sunday. It comes against the backdrop of China looking to increase its footprint in the Indian Ocean region—seen as India’s sphere of influence—with its multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative and expanding naval presence.

Ties between India and the Maldives have been on an upswing since Ibrahim Solih took over as president in 2018.

According to a joint statement, a ‘Letter of Intent’ was also signed between Fahi Dhiriulhun Corp. and India’s Exim Bank for extending a credit facility to support the design and construction of 2,000 social housing units in Hulhumale. Jaishankar was present at the signing of a project execution contract for the construction of roads in Addu, a major urban hub in the Maldives. This was the first among eight key infrastructure projects, being implemented jointly by the Maldives and India.

Jaishankar met his counterpart Abdullah Shahid for talks during which “the ministers reaffirmed their commitment to further deepening and strengthening the relationship, and exploring new areas of cooperation," it said.

Shahid also appreciated the resumption of flights between Maldives and India under the Air Travel Bubble established in August 2020. This also helped Maldivians who wanted to get medical treatment, despite borders being closed.

“The Air Travel Bubble has enabled an increasing number of Indian tourists to visit the Maldives, making India the number one tourist-source market during 2020 and continuing to occupy the top spot in 2021 so far. Currently, over 45 flights per week are operating between the Maldives and seven destinations in India. Minister Shahid noted that the increasing number of tourists from India has supported recovery from the pandemic," the statement said. Tourism is the primary revenue earner for Maldives which was badly hit by the pandemic.

Shahid “also noted that the development of Hanimaadhoo Airport and Addu Gan Airport being financed under the $800 million Line of Credit will contribute towards strengthening connectivity, and facilitate more visitors to Maldives".

The two ministers took stock of the “status of implementation on the various infrastructure development projects financed through the Government of India Lines of Credit", according to the statement.

This includes the Greater Malé Connectivity – Malé to Thilafushi Link Project (GMCP), the tender for which was issued earlier this week. A 6.7 km bridge linking Male and Thilafushi industrial zone will also be built.

The two also “expressed satisfaction" that contracts to build water and sanitation infrastructure across 34 islands will be awarded this month.

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