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India, Maldives discuss maritime security, military ties

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NEW DELHI (PTI): India and Maldives on Thursday resolved to deepen their maritime security cooperation and give a new momentum to overall military ties during talks between Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Maldivian counterpart Mariya Ahmed Didi, officials said.

In a statement, the defence ministry described the talks as "substantive" and said that the two countries will continue their counter-terror cooperation.

"India and Maldives held substantive discussions on further strengthening bilateral defence cooperation here today. Both side agreed that the two countries would continue their traditionally close cooperation on issues of maritime security, counter-terrorism," it said.

In the talks, Sitharaman reiterated India's commitment to contribute towards capacity building and training requirements of the Maldives national defence forces, the officials said.

The issue of maritime security cooperation figured prominently during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's talks with Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in New Delhi last month.

The two countries had agreed to remain mindful of each other's concerns and aspirations for the stability of the Indian Ocean region and not allow their respective territories to be used for any activity inimical to their interests.

India is concerned over China's efforts to expand influence over Maldives.

Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa and Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar P called on the Maldivian Defence Minister.

It is Didi's first visit to India after becoming Defence Minister around four months back.

The second round of the India-Maldives Defence Cooperation Dialogue was also held on Thursday.

The Indian delegation was headed by Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra and Maldivian side was led by Chief of Defence Forces of Maldives Maj. Gen. Abdulla Shamaal.

Didi will witness the 70th Republic Day Parade at Rajpath as well as visit various Indian defence institutions such as the Indian Maritime Analysis Centre in Gurugram and Army Training Command in Shimla.

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