New Delhi: Defence minister Ranjith Singh will embark on a two-day visit to the Mal- dives next week, while IAF chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari will head to Sri Lanka, to bolster defence and strategic ties with the two nations amid China’s expanding inroads in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
Both Singh and ACM Chaudhari will leave for their official visits to the key maritime neighbours on Monday. Singh is expected to meet Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solid, foreign minister Abdulla Sha- hid and defence minister Mariyah Didi during the trip. With an eye firmly on China, India has been helping Male with the capacity- building of the Maldives National Defence Forces (MNDF), military aid and training, EEZ surveillance and hydrographic surveys.
Defence secretary Giridhar Aramean had also visited Maldives last month for the bilateral defence cooperation dialogue, under which the two countries had decided to fur- her boost bilateral military ties, especially n the maritime domain, engagements and he complexity of joint exercises.
India has stepped up its diplomatic and military engagement with Maldives, which included assistance during the Covid pandemic, especially since the government led by President Solid came to power in 2018.
The two countries share common perspectives on maritime security issues in the OR and have been working together closely In several bilateral, mini-lateral and multilateral for a such as the Indian Ocean Naval “symposium, an official said.