NEW DELHI – Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India would grant a credit line of $100 million to the Maldives on Tuesday after holding talks with his counterpart, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
Solih arrived in India on Monday for a four-day visit. The two countries have signed six agreements to promote cooperation in a number of areas, including disaster management, cybersecurity and affordable housing.
The two leaders also marked the start of construction on the Greater Male Connectivity Project, an India-funded 6.74 km (4.2 mi) bridge and causeway that will connect the nation’s capital South with three other islands.
Both emphasized the importance of close ties between the two countries as essential to peace and stability in the region.
“The friendly relationship between India and the Maldives has taken on new life. Our proximity has increased,” Modi said, adding that despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, cooperation between the two countries has been strengthened.
Solih said the two leaders discussed terrorism and the need to “enhance maritime security and safety in the Indian Ocean region”. Not to mention China, but Solih’s election in 2018 marked a shift from his predecessor, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, who developed close ties with Beijing in a region that’s not known. India considers its backyard.
India has been concerned about Yameen’s tilt towards China, which is seeking to gain more influence in the Indian Ocean. The former president has pledged to support China’s Belt and Road Initiative, with the country investing in numerous infrastructure projects in the Maldives.
“The Maldives will always be a true friend of India,” Solih said on Tuesday, adding that the relationship between the two sides would be “the highest priority”.
His visit follows an announcement that he will run for re-election in 2023. Since coming to power, the Maldivian president has advertised his government’s “India first policy” and pledged to support Full support for deepening relations with New Delhi.