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"India for boosting defence ties with Maldives"

Union Defence Minister A K Antony with Mohamed Nazim, Minister of Defence and National Security, Republic of Maldives to the Tri-Services Guard of Honour at North Block in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: PTI.

NEW DELHI (PTI): Defence Minister A K Antony on Thursday said India was committed to strengthening defence relations with Maldives as he met with Maldivian Minister of Defence and National Security Mohamed Nazim who is here on an official visit.

He also announced all MNDF personnel will henceforth be eligible for treatment in armed forces medical institutions in India for major surgeries and for treatment of major and serious illnesses, a Ministry of Defence spokesperson said.

Both the ministers also discussed continued conduct of bilateral exercises and decided the next joint exercise will be held in 2014.

Antony conveyed continued Indian support to the medical facilities and expertise for the Maldives National Defence Force.

They discussed training of Maldivian medical specialists in India, deputation of Indian armed forces medical specialists to Maldives and strengthening of medical infrastructure in Maldives among other proposals, the spokesperson said.

During the visit, an Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) will also be symbolically handed over to the MNDF. The ALH is expected to be positioned in Male by early 2014 and would be the second ALH to be provided to Maldives.

The Maldivian Minister expressed his appreciation of the assistance being provided by India in this regard.

During the hour-long meeting, both the Defence Ministers discussed a number of issues relating to regional security and matters pertaining to bilateral defence cooperation between both the countries.

India-Maldives ties had come under strain in the last two years as the Indian Ocean island archipelago went through an political turmoil.

India remains wary of China's continuing efforts to expand its strategic footprint in Maldives.

India, on its part, has tried to stepped up its own defence engagement with Maldives as well as other countries in the Indian Ocean region. Antony had visited Maldives in August 2009. Indian warships and Dornier reconnaissance aircraft have been regularly helping Maldives in maritime patrol and surveillance.

Nazim was accompanied by the Maldivian High Commissioner to India and senior MNDF officers. From the Indian side, defence secretary, vice chief of naval staff and other senior officers of the armed forces, defence and external affairs ministries were present at the meeting.

The visiting dignitary will be visiting Kochi on December 14 and would be visiting naval facilities under the Southern Naval Command.


India  Maldives  Defence  

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