India announces $100m line of credit to Maldives

India will extend a $100 million line of credit to the Maldives to support development projects, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday after 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 strengthen cooperation in several areas, including disaster management, cybersecurity and affordable housing.

The two leaders also marked the start of construction of the Greater Male Connectivity project, a 6.74 kilometer (4.2 mile) long Indian-funded bridge and causeway that will connect the national capital, Male, to three other islands.

Both stressed the importance of close ties between their two countries, vital for peace and stability in the region.

“There has been renewed vigor in the friendly ties between India and the Maldives. Our closeness has increased,” Modi said, adding that despite the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, cooperation between the two countries has strengthened.

Solih said the two leaders discussed terrorism and the need to “strengthen maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean region”. Neither mentioned 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 India sees as his backyard.

India has expressed concern over Yameen’s fondness for China, which has sought to gain more influence in the Indian Ocean. The former president had pledged to support China’s Belt and Road Initiative, with the country investing in numerous infrastructure projects in the Maldives.

“The Maldives will always remain a true friend of India,” Solih said on Tuesday, adding that the relationship between the two will be “of the highest priority.”

His visit follows the announcement of his re-election in 2023. Since taking office, the Maldivian president has touted his government’s “India-first policy” and pledged to fully support deepening links with New Delhi.

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