External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar extended greetings to the government and people of Maldives on the occasion of the country’s Independence Day today, as he reaffirmed the Neighborhood First policy and special partnership between India and the Maldives. Taking to Twitter, he extended his greetings to Maldivian FM, Abdulla Shahid and said: “Warm greetings to FM @abdulla_shahid and the Government and people of the Maldives on their Independence Day.”
“We re-affirm our Neighborhood First policy and our special partnership,” Jaishankar said. Notably, India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links steeped in antiquity and enjoy close, cordial and multi-dimensional relations.
India was among the first to recognise the Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country. Despite its small size, the Maldives is currently being wooed by a number of developed and developing countries due to the Strategic Importance of the Geographic Location of the Maldives with respect to key International Shipping Lanes (ISLs).
The Indian Ocean is a key highway for global trade and energy flows. The Maldives is geographically positioned like a ‘toll gate’ between the western Indian Ocean chokepoints of the Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Hormuz on the one hand, and the eastern Indian Ocean chokepoint of the Strait of Malacca on the other. It is extremely important for India’s strength in the blue economy through sustainable management and utilisation of marine resources.
In 2016, an Action Plan between India and the Maldives was signed for “defence cooperation” to enhance the “shared strategic and security interests of the two countries in the Indian Ocean region”. While the recent ‘India-First Policy’ of the Maldives and India’s ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ are intuitively complementary, the challenge lies in implementing these policies with cultural, geo-economics, and geostrategic sensitivity.
Meanwhile, in another tweet, the EAM also extended his greetings to Liberia’s Foreign Minister Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah and the Government and people of Liberia on their National Day which is also commemorated on July 26.