China in mind, India to try charm on Maldives | delhi | Hindustan Times
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China in mind, India to try charm on Maldives

delhi Updated: Nov 07, 2011 02:14 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times
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This could just add to the great game in the Indian Ocean. As it did with Bangladesh last September, leading with an umbrella pact for promoting cooperation across many sectors, India is set to unleash a charm offensive on Maldives during the Prime Minister’s visit.

The move comes at a time when Chinese efforts to increase its presence in Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago located on crucial international shipping lane with vital strategic importance, is on an upswing.

Stepping up interactions and reconnaissance efforts, and greater cooperation in counter-terrorism will enhance defence and security ties between the two countries.

Furthering defence ties will be under the rubric of stepping up maritime security and enhanced efforts to deal with the threat of piracy that Maldives is facing of late. Singh, who is in Maldives to attend the SAARC summit from November 9 to 12, will have a bilateral meeting with the President of Maldives.

With an Indian PM visiting Maldives for a bilateral after nine years, New Delhi wants it to be a unique affair and a game changer — in sync with the changing aspirations of a democratic Maldives under its dynamic president, Mohamed Nasheed, sources told HT.

The umbrella pact will be the larger framework agreement that will broadly spell out the basis for stronger partnership in many spheres between the countries in the coming years, a government official said.

India will help Maldives set up a police training academy. Cooperation in climate change, financial aid including extending a fresh credit line to Maldives are also on the cards. There will be initiative in the health sector too.

With its strategic location, China has been of late making overtures to increase its footprints in Maldives. Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) became the highest-ranking official ever to visit Maldives when he visited the country in May.

The Indian private sector, too, has invested close to $1 billion in Maldives.