India and the Maldives have come together to reaffirm the importance of maintaining peace, stability and security in the Indian Ocean. The two countries have also stressed the significance of respecting international law and a rules-based international order, particularly in light of China’s growing influence in the region. This statement comes as Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited the Maldives, where he laid the foundation stone for the Maldives National Defence Force Ekatha harbour in the capital city of Male.
The visit of the Indian Defence Minister is significant in many ways. First, it reflects India’s growing engagement with its neighbors, particularly in the context of its Indo-Pacific strategy. The Maldives, which is situated in the Indian Ocean, is strategically located at the crossroads of international shipping lanes. As such, it has become an important partner for India in its efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region. By strengthening its relationship with the Maldives, India is also seeking to counter China’s increasing influence in the Indian Ocean, where it has been expanding its naval presence in recent years.
Second, the visit of the Indian Defence Minister is a testament to the deepening ties between India and the Maldives. The two countries have a long history of cultural, economic and political ties, and have been working closely on issues of mutual interest. India has been providing developmental assistance to the Maldives in areas such as infrastructure, education and healthcare, and has also been supporting its efforts to combat terrorism and piracy.
The laying of the foundation stone for the Maldives National Defence Force Ekatha harbour is a significant step in the defense cooperation between the two countries. The harbour, which will be built with Indian assistance, is expected to enhance the operational capabilities of the Maldives National Defence Force and enable it to respond more effectively to security challenges in the region. It will also serve as a hub for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, further strengthening India’s role as a reliable partner in the region.
The joint statement issued by the two countries emphasizes the importance of maintaining peace, stability and security in the Indian Ocean. It also stresses the need to respect international law and a rules-based international order, which is particularly significant in the context of China’s growing influence in the region. China has been expanding its naval presence in the Indian Ocean, and has been building ports and other infrastructure in countries such as Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. This has raised concerns among India and other regional powers about China’s long-term intentions in the region.