U.S. Maldives Inked Bilateral Defence Deal, This Move Will Counter Chinese Dominance In Indo-Pacific And Indian Ocean Region

by Shatakshi Gupta

In order to ensure peace and security in the Indian Ocean, the US has tied up with the Maldives for defence cooperation.  The announcement was made on Friday by the US Department of Defence, Pentagon.  The agreement comes at a time when the Trump administration is strengthening its cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region to counter China’s growing presence in the region. 

The Pentagon said that on September 10 in Philadelphia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Reid Werner and Maldives Defence Minister Maria Didi signed the draft for the defence and security agreement.  Maria Didi said that the Government of Maldives sees this draft as an important agreement between the Maldives and the US in the field of defence and security.

 The US Department of Defence said, “This framework is an important step forward in the direction of Defence partnership, along with determining the deep relations and cooperation of the two countries with the aim of ensuring peace and security in the Indian Ocean”. 

The deal also includes aspects of bilateral activities, dialogue at the level of senior leaders, participation and cooperation in the maritime sector, natural disaster, cooperation in relief work.

 The Defence Department said that Werner and Didi discussed the topics in which there is scope for future cooperation, along with America’s help in dealing with the island nation’s Covid-19 situation.  The two also agreed to the program of the first ‘Defence and Security Dialogue’.  The Pentagon said both sides expressed their commitment to an independent and open Indo-Pacific.

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Didi said that security and peace in the Indo-Pacific and Indian Ocean region are tied to the best interests of both countries. She emphasized the importance of bilateral talks and engagement, against a backdrop of growing transnational threats such as piracy, violent extremism, terrorism, and illicit trade, which she said remained relevant, even amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

The Central Indo-Pacific includes the numerous seas and straits connecting the Indian and Pacific oceans. China is trying to increase its dominance in the Indo-Pacific region.  The US is also emphasizing India’s broader role in a strategic area.  China is expanding its capacity in the Indian Ocean region.  Gwadar port of Pakistan has also been controlled by China.