India External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday met Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid to discuss bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest. Taking to Twitter, Jaishankar said, “A warm welcome to the Foreign Minister of Maldives, Abdulla_Shahid. The India-Maldives special partnership is getting deeper by the day.” The Maldivian Foreign Minister is also expected to deliver the 43rd Sapru House Lecture at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) in New Delhi.
A warm welcome to FM @abdulla_shahid of Maldives.
The India-Maldives special partnership grows deeper by the day. pic.twitter.com/c6hKQR1MJD
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) July 11, 2023
Maldives is a major maritime neighbour of India in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and occupies a special place in the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’. “The visit of the Foreign Minister of Maldives is in continuation of the series of high-level visits between the two sides and is expected to provide further impetus to the solid bilateral cooperation between the two countries,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in an official release.
Last month, Union Ministers of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan and Abdulla Shahid attended the ceremony for the exchange of 10 Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) between India and Maldives in Male. Relations between India and Maldives are not limited to political matters but they also have a strong military alliance. Recently, India and Maldives conducted a joint exercise EKUVERIN which concluded after intensive validation training.
“The exercise has strengthened mutual trust and enabled sharing of best practices,” the Indian Army’s Additional Directorate General of Public Information said on Twitter. According to the Defense Ministry report, the 12th edition of the joint military exercise “EX EKUVERIN” between the Indian Army and Maldives National Defense Force took place in Chaubatia, Uttarakhand from 11 to 24 June 2023. Ekuvereen which means ‘Friends’ is a bilateral annual exercise held alternately in India and Maldives.
A platoon strength contingent of the Indian Army and Maldives National Defense Force participated in the 14-day-long exercise. The exercise aims to enhance interoperability in Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorism operations and to undertake joint humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations under the United Nations mandate. According to the Defense Ministry, the focus was on sharing best practices and enhancing coordination and cooperation between the two armies at the tactical level.