India hands over coastal radar system to Maldives

Published on Mar 27, 2022 10:18 PM IST

Jaishankar, who was on a two-day visit to the Indian Ocean archipelago, described defence cooperation as a “key pillar of our partnership”, and said the coastal radar system will contribute to enhancing security for the Maldives and the entire region.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with Maldives President Ibrahim Solih , during their meeting, in Addu City in Maldives on Sunday. (PTI PHOTO.)
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with Maldives President Ibrahim Solih , during their meeting, in Addu City in Maldives on Sunday. (PTI PHOTO.)

India on Sunday handed over a coastal radar system to the Maldives that will play a key role in enhancing regional security as the two countries launched several development projects being implemented under an aid package worth more than $2.6 billion.

The expanded coastal radar system was handed over to the chief of the Maldives National Defence Force, Maj Gen Abdulla Shamaal, by external affairs minister S Jaishankar. The system, which comprises 10 radar stations, was built with an Indian grant of $15.8 million. The radar stations are operated by personnel of the Maldives’ Coast Guard.

Jaishankar, who was on a two-day visit to the Indian Ocean archipelago, described defence cooperation as a “key pillar of our partnership”, and said the coastal radar system will contribute to enhancing security for the Maldives and the entire region.

He added that the system was a product of the partnership between the external affairs ministry and the Indian Navy for regional security, and an example of India’s “SAGAR” (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and “Neighbourhood First” policies.

Maldives President Ibrahim Solih and Jaishankar jointly inaugurated the National College of Policing and Law Enforcement in Addu city, one of the largest projects implemented in the Maldives with an Indian grant. A memorandum of understanding was signed by the Maldives Police Service and India’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy to enhance cooperation in training and capacity building.

India has increased the number of training slots for the Maldives at the police academy to eight. India’s Exim Bank is providing more than $40 million to create police infrastructure facilities across the Maldives, including 61 police stations, divisional headquarters, detention centres and barracks.

Solih, in his address at the event, said India’s assistance has always been directed towards the development of the Maldives. Numerous projects have been undertaken with grant or loan assistance from India, including the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, schemes to develop water and sewerage networks for 34 islands, and the redevelopment of Gan and Hanimaadhoo international airports.

Jaishankar said the bilateral development partnership is worth more than $2.6 billion, including grants, loans, budgetary support, and training assistance. The Indian assistance is transparent and driven by the needs of the people and government of the Maldives, he said.

The leaders later participated in ground-breaking for the development of 107 km of roads in Addu city and witnessed the signing of an $80-million contract for the Addu reclamation and shore protection project. Jaishankar also joined Maldives foreign minister Abdulla Shahid and health minister Kerafa Naseem for the inauguration of a drug detoxification and rehabilitation centre in Addu built with Indian assistance. The centre is one of 20 high impact community development projects being implemented by India in areas such as healthcare, education, fisheries, tourism, sports and culture.

Shahid noted that the police training college will be a symbol of the friendship with India, “our closest neighbour, our most trusted partner”. He added, “India has always proved it will always be a friend in times of need [and] has the best interests of Maldivians at heart.”

During a meeting with Jaishankar on Sunday morning, the Maldives president his country has gained immense benefits from India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy. Solih reiterated that the Maldives will “always uphold its ‘India First’ policy” and is committed to enhancing the close ties with India.

Solih and Jaishankar discussed areas of mutual interest, such as Covid-19 relief, tourism cooperation, healthcare, fisheries, security cooperation, and regional and international cooperation.

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