India and the Maldives on Sunday signed a defence Line of Credit agreement worth $50 million. The deal was signed by officials during the ongoing visit by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. During extensive discussions held over two days, both sides agreed to maintain peace and security in the Indian Ocean Region.
The defence Line of Credit will “facilitate capability building in the maritime domain”, said Mr. Jaishankar in a social media message. The two sides agreed to strengthen coordination in enhancing regional maritime security, said a Joint Statement that summed up the bilateral agreements. The defence and security collaboration will also focus on combating terrorism in “all its forms and manifestations”. The two sides agreed to convene the first meeting of the Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism, countering Violent Extremism and De-radicalisation at the the earliest.
Indicating deepening security cooperation, an agreement to develop, support and maintain a Maldives National Defence Force Coast Guard Harbour at Sifvaru was also signed. Mr. Jaishankar reviewed a number of India-backed infrastructure projects including the National College of Policing and Law Enforcement Studies. The Joint Statement said the institute is likely to be inaugurated in April.
“Both Ministers also noted progress on institutionalising linkages between the police organisations to support collaboration and cooperation in training management and exchange of trainers and trainees.”
Mr. Jaishankar and his Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid discussed collaboration at multilateral bodies like the General Assembly and the Security Council. The Maldivian side assured Delhi of its support for permanent membership of India at the “expanded and reformed” UNSC. Mr. Jaishankar had extended support for the candidature of the Maldives for the Presidency of the 76th session of the UNGA.
The two-day visit was the second ministerial trip by Mr. Jaishankar. He last visited the Maldives in September 2019 to participate in the Indian Ocean Conference. He also met President Ibrahim Solih and Speaker of the Peoples Majlis Mohamed Nasheed.