India has always been the Maldives’ closest ally and trusted neighbour, Govt. says
The Government of Maldives on Wednesday said it “strongly rejects attempts to spread false information” criticising its ties with India, its “closest ally and trusted neighbour”.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said allegations that bilateral cooperation between the Governments of Maldives and India undermines the national security and sovereignty of Maldives are “misguided” and “unsubstantiated”.
The statement comes amid an ongoing social media campaign in the Maldives called ‘#Indiaout’. Maldivians critical of the Ibrahim Mohamed Solih administration’s ‘India first’ policy in international relations, have in the past vehemently opposed “any Indian military presence”, and the opening of an Indian consulate in its southern Addu atoll.
However, according to the Maldivian Foreign Ministry, the anti-India sentiments are not widely prevalent in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
“The Government firmly believes that these views are not the sentiments of the general public, but rather that of a small group of individuals with the objective of tarnishing the country’s long-standing cordial ties with India,” the Ministry statement said.
“The cooperation and support provided by the Government of India, specifically on issues of maritime security, is aimed at strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries and to ensure the safety and stability of the Indian Ocean region,” it said.
It also added that Indian support in areas such as search and rescue capabilities, casualty evacuation, coastal surveillance, and maritime reconnaissance, “directly benefit” the Maldivian people.
Further, the Maldives observed that addressing threats of trans-border terrorism, piracy, narco-trafficking, climate change, cyber security and human trafficking, requires the support and cooperation of all regional and international partners.
“No one country alone can address these issues on its own,” the statement added.
The Ministry’s response appeared to reiterate President Solih’s own position in regard to his government’s ties with New Delhi. In an interview to The Hindu in January this year, Mr. Solih said the Maldives makes no apology for its close ties with India.
Meanwhile, India’s recently appointed High Commissioner to the Maldives Munu Mahawar presented his credentials to President Solih on Wednesday. “The President and the High Commissioner expressed their desire for further cooperation and assistance in all efforts towards the mutual benefit of both nations,” a statement from the President’s office said.
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