The Indian Ocean country occupies a special place in India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar who arrived in Maldives on a two-day visit on Saturday, held comprehensive talks with his Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid on the entire gamut of bilateral relations, including close Covid-19 cooperation and post-pandemic economic recovery.

Tweeting about this, EAM Jaishankar wrote: “An extraordinary deep partnership reaffirmed. Held comprehensive talks with FM Abudlla Shahid. Deeply appreciate our close cooperation during Covid. Agreed to look beyond post-pandemic economic recovery.”

EAM Jaishankar who arrived here on the first leg of his two-nation trip, handed over 100,000 additional doses of the Covid-19 vaccines to Maldivian Health Minister Kerafa Naseem, calling the vaccines as a gift from people of India to the people of Maldives.

Earlier upon reaching Male, the EAM tweeted, “Warm and sunny- the weather and our friendship. Good to be back to Maldives. Thank FM Abdulla Shahid for the welcome.”

The EAM was received at Velana International Airport by his Maldivian counterpart Shahid, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed Khaleel, Foreign Secretary Abdul Gafoor Mohamed and Maldivian High Commissioner to India Hussain Niyaz, Maldivian media reported.

India has continued its high level engagements with Maldives

In November, Foreign Secretary Harshvardhan Shringla visited Maldives. Before that in August 2020, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had held a meeting with his Maldivian counterpart through video conferencing wherein several key projects and initiatives were announced.

Then in April 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had held a telephonic conversation with Maldivian President Solih.

‘India First’ has been the underlying foreign policy approach of the Government of Maldives. President Solih, ever since he assumed office in November 2018, has taken concerted initiatives on this front. This has been in congruence with India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.

India’s rapid and comprehensive assistance to the Maldives since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has further reinforced its credentials of being the first responder. Maldives was the first country to receive Covid-19 vaccines from India when India gifted 100,000 doses in January 2021.