As part of increased maritime cooperation, India and Maldives have jointly unveiled a navigation chart

Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral R Hari Kumar visited the Maldives from April 18-20 as a part of his first overseas visit with a focus on further strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.

During the visit, he called on President Ibrahim Mohamad Solih, Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid, Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi, and Major General Abdulla Shamaal, the Chief of Defence Force (CDF).

“CNS’s first overseas visit, guided by Prime Minister’s ‘Five S’ Vision; further consolidated the strong & long-standing bilateral relations b/n two close maritime neighbors & also identified new avenues of expanding the scope of bilateral cooperation in defence & maritime domain,” said the Ministry of Defence on Wednesday.

Guided by the ‘Five S’ Vision of Sammaan (Respect), Samvaad – (Dialogue), Sahyog – (cooperation), Shanti – (Peace), and Samriddhi – (Prosperity), which was articulated by the Prime Minister of India, Admiral R Hari Kumar’s visit to the island nation consolidated the strong and long-standing bilateral relations between the two maritime neighbors, the ministry noted.

Identifying the new avenues of expanding the scope of bilateral cooperation in defence and maritime domain, the Navy chief hosted a reception onboard the Indian Naval Ship (INS) Sutlej on Monday.

Notably, INS Sutlej is currently deployed to the Maldives for undertaking a joint hydrographic survey under the MoU on hydrographic cooperation. The Navy chief also unveiled the first ‘Navigation Chart’ jointly produced by India and Maldives and handed over hydrography equipment to consolidate the organic capabilities of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

During the COVID-19 surge, both India and Maldives worked closely, under the Indian Navy’s outreach initiative ‘Mission SAGAR’ and Operation Samudra Setu, which worked towards resource mobilisation and movement of personnel, the defence ministry said.

During his visit, the Indian Navy Chief met Minister of Defence Mariya Didi to discuss ways to further bolster cooperation between the Indian Navy and MNDF, in the area of maritime information sharing, maritime domain awareness, bilateral maritime agreements, and capacity-building initiatives, informed the Ministry.

Maldives Defence Minister Mariya Didi highlighted that India-Maldives defence and security partnership was at its pinnacle, and thanked India for providing swift, unconditional support to the Maldives at all times.

Significantly, the Defence Minister of Maldives was the Chief Guest at the Passing Out Parade of Indian Naval Academy in November 2021 and Col Ibrahim Hilmy, Commandant of Maldives Coast Guard led the Maldives Delegation at MILAN-2022 hosted by India at Visakhapatnam in February 2022.

India and Maldives share common perspectives on maritime security issues in the Indian Ocean and have been working together closely in several bilateral, mini-lateral, and multilateral fora such as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium and the Colombo Security Conclave.