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  World   Asia  10 May 2024  India discusses Maldives debt

India discusses Maldives debt

THE ASIAN AGE. | SRIDHAR KUMARASWAMI
Published : May 10, 2024, 2:23 am IST
Updated : May 10, 2024, 2:23 am IST

EAM says ties based on ‘mutual interests'

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. (PTI)
 External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. (PTI)

New Delhi: India on Thursday confirmed that the issue of debt relief for the Maldives was discussed in a meeting between external affairs minister S. Jaishankar and Maldivian foreign minister Moosa Zameer in the national capital. At the meeting, Mr Jaishankar said that India-Maldives ties are based on "mutual interests" and "reciprocal sensitivity”.

According to recent reports, the Maldives is keen on debt relief regarding the repayment of loans taken from India by the archipelago nation in the recent past. The Maldivian economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism, is reportedly under severe stress. Among other factors, the fall in the number of Indian tourists due to the strain in bilateral ties has added to its economic woes.

Amid strains in bilateral ties due to the pronounced pro-China and anti-India positions taken by Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu, who came to power last year, Mr Jaishankar, in his opening remarks ahead of bilateral talks, said, “India has been a key provider of development assistance to the Maldives… We have also extended financial support on favourable terms in the past. India has been a first responder on numerous occasions for the Maldives. It is in our common interest that we reach an understanding on how best we take our relationship forward.”

Emphasising that close partnerships with neighbours are of great value, especially during global uncertainty, Mr Jaishankar further reminded Mr Zameer that “India has been a key provider of development assistance to the Maldives” and has “also extended financial support on favourable terms in the past”.

Last week, the two nations "reviewed the ongoing efforts to enable continued operation of Indian aviation platforms that provide humanitarian and medevac services to the people of Maldives”. India is already replacing defence personnel with civilians to operate the three aviation platforms for medical evacuation in the south-western maritime neighbouring country.

In a briefing about the ongoing visit of the Maldivian delegation, foreign ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said that the two ministers held extensive discussions on our bilateral relationship and regional security issues. They also discussed development partnerships, ongoing capacity building and training initiatives.

"Mr Jaishankar noted that, as close and proximate neighbours, the development of India-Maldives ties was based on mutual interests and reciprocal sensitivity," Mr Jaiswal said, adding, "As regards the specific issues, as you are aware, both sides have been working together to ensure continued operation of Indian aviation platforms that provide humanitarian and medevac services to the people of Maldives. Accordingly, deputation of competent Indian technical personnel has taken place.”

In response to a media query on whether debt relief (for the Maldives) had been discussed in the meeting between the two foreign ministers, the foreign ministry spokesperson replied in the affirmative and said the issue of debt relief is part of the “pillar” of the development partnership between the two nations.

Tags: india-maldives ties, eam jaishankar, maldivian foreign minister moosa zameer