New Delhi: India has decided not only to support development projects in neighbouring Maldives on a bilateral basis but also join hands with USA, Japan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia to develop islands in the key Indian Ocean region.
Delhi is expected to announce a financial package during new President Ibu Solih’s December 17 trip to assist Maldives overcome a budget crisis and fund various civilian projects, persons familiar with the issue told ET.
Solih will be in India on his maiden state visit after becoming president based on his ‘India first’ policy.
The Narendra Modi government is also in talks with Washington, Tokyo, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh to join hands for third country projects in Maldives, where in the past five years, China has made huge inroads. While the USA has shown interest to assist Maldives to handle its debt crisis, Japan, which opened an embassy in Male two years back, can partner India in the backdrop of their partnership to ensure free & open Indo-Pacific region. UAE & Saudi Arabia, two rich nations with warm ties with Maldives and India, are also considering partnering for projects in civilian sectors in the archipelago.
While India and the UAE have decided to undertake projects in third countries beginning with Africa, Riyadh and Delhi may also join hands for third country projects given the growing warmth in bilateral partnership.
India and Maldives are hoping to conclude a bilateral investment treaty allowing private investments from here to the neighbouring country.
Delhi will extend support to Solih for infrastructure development in far flung islands of Maldives as Solih eyes reducing dependence on China, indicated one of the persons quoted above. Housing, water, health and sewerage systems in the outlying islands of Maldives are on India’s radar.
Source: Economic Times