External Affairs Minister Jaishankar in Maldives as India eyes foothold in strategic atoll : The Tribune India

Tribune press service

Sandeep Dikshit

New Delhi, March 26

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar left for the Maldives, where India plans to open a consulate in Addu, an atoll strategically located about 500 km from the capital Male, which was a British air and naval base for ban German U-boats in the Indian Ocean during the World War. II.

Jaishankar will be in the town of Addu, already home to an Indian-funded police training institute, amid protests from the opposition who oppose both the proposed consulate and enhanced military cooperation. However, local lawmakers from the ruling party believe the consulate in the Maldives’ second-largest city will boost economic activity and avoid having to travel to Male.

India had set eyes on Addu Atoll and helped the Maldives host the SAARC summit here in 2011. With the rise of Chinese naval power, a foothold for India will spur an architecture of emerging regional maritime security involving Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius, Bangladesh and Seychelles. . India is also exploring the possibility of a naval presence in Seychelles and Mauritius.

Jaishankar will then travel to Sri Lanka at a time when the country is facing its worst economic crisis. With extended lines of credit worth $2.4 billion, New Delhi will seek to firm up some strategic projects in addition to Colombo by awarding two to Adani Group and entering into a joint venture with Indian Oil Corporation for another. .

The closing day of his visit to Colombo on March 30 will coincide with the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) summit which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address virtually. Besides India and Sri Lanka, the other BIMSTECs are Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan.

After Jaishankar’s visit, Nepali Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba will travel to New Delhi and Varanasi from April 1-3. This will be his first bilateral visit abroad after becoming prime minister in July 2021. He has visited India on each of his four previous spells as prime minister. The most recent visit in his capacity as prime minister was in 2017. He will meet Prime Minister Modi on April 2.

“This visit would provide an opportunity for both sides to review the full range of bilateral relations, including trade, health, electricity, connectivity, people-to-people ties and other issues of mutual interest,” it said. a press release from the MEA.

Shirlene J. Manley