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May 18, 2024

India’s Strategic Capacity Building with the Maldives and Broader Diplomatic Engagements

Capacity building remains a crucial element in India’s defence and security collaboration with the Maldives, and New Delhi is poised to expand this cooperation if requested by Male, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). During a recent weekly briefing, MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal highlighted India’s readiness to support the Maldives in training their pilots, should such a request arise.

Indian military personnel, who were previously stationed in the Maldives to operate helicopters and a Dornier aircraft primarily used for medical evacuations, were repatriated by May 10 following an agreement between the two countries in February. Jaiswal emphasized, “Capacity building is an important component in our defence and security engagement with the Maldives. We have in the past trained their personnel on the defence side, and if we receive a request for training of pilots, we will be happy to take it forward.”

The Maldives, a key maritime neighbor of India in the Indian Ocean Region, has seen its bilateral ties with India, including in defence and security, strengthen significantly under its previous government. This partnership underscores India’s broader strategic interests in the region.

Addressing International Concerns

Jaiswal also responded to queries about the arrest of a fourth Indian national by Canadian authorities in connection with the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. “We have seen reports of the fourth person being arrested,” Jaiswal confirmed, noting that India has not yet received formal communication or consular access requests related to this case. The arrest follows the detainment of three other Indians linked to the high-profile incident, which has strained India-Canada relations since Nijjar’s assassination outside a Sikh gurdwara in British Columbia last June.

On issues faced by Indian students in Canada, Jaiswal stated, “We have a large number of students in Canada. There may be isolated cases, but we don’t see any major problems.” He reassured that no significant deportation issues have come to the MEA’s notice.

Broader Diplomatic Activities

Regarding a Danish-flagged ship allegedly carrying arms from India to Israel, which was reportedly denied a port call in Spain, Jaiswal mentioned that the MEA is investigating the matter and will provide more details when available.

The spokesperson reiterated India’s clear stance on Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, asserting that these issues impact India’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. “Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir is an integral part of India and it always has been and will always be so,” he stated. India opposes the CPEC as it runs through PoK.

When questioned about potential Indian delegations to Taipei and expectations from Taiwan’s new government, Jaiswal highlighted the ongoing exchanges between India and Taiwan in cultural, economic, trade, investment, and scientific fields, affirming that these interactions will continue.

Engagement with Russia on Afghanistan

The recent visit of Zamir Kabulov, the Special Envoy of the Russian President on Afghanistan, to India was also discussed. Kabulov met with an Indian delegation led by Joint Secretary JP Singh, who oversees Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran within the MEA. The bilateral consultations focused on the current situation in Afghanistan and emphasized the importance of continuing development assistance and humanitarian support to the Afghan people.

These various engagements illustrate India’s proactive and multifaceted approach to its foreign relations, balancing immediate regional security interests with broader international diplomatic efforts.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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