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US committed to partnering with Maldives to ensure free and secure Indo-Pacific region: Blinken

This message was conveyed when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with visiting Maldivian Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer on Tuesday in Washington, DC.
Last Updated : 26 June 2024, 12:15 IST

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Washington/Male: The US has reaffirmed its commitment to partnering with the Maldives to promote a free, open, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, a senior state department official has said, amidst the archipelagic nation in the Indian Ocean moving closer to China.

This message was conveyed when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with visiting Maldivian Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer on Tuesday in Washington, DC.

Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the US commitment to partnering with Maldives to promote a free, open, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, state department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

Ever since Maldivian leader Mohamed Muizzu, known for his pro-China leanings, assumed charge as President in November last year, the Maldives has stepped up ties with Beijing and inked several bilateral agreements, including a defence cooperation deal.

Blinken's reference to the Indo-Pacific is also significant since China is vehemently opposed to the US and other countries getting involved in a region where Beijing has major maritime territorial disputes with countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam.

Blinken highlighted the US donation of eight patrol boats to the Maldives and, working with Congress, the planned provision of USD 2 million in hydrographic support to help the country mitigate the impact of rising sea levels, Miller said in a statement.

Blinken and Zameer discussed additional opportunities to enhance cooperation on addressing the climate crisis, economic growth, maritime security, and other bilateral priorities, it said.

In Male, the foreign ministry said Zameer and Blinken discussed matters in the area of defence and security cooperation, commitment to economic growth and adapting to climate change among other issues and expressed their commitment to regional stability and maritime security.

“Met with Maldivian Foreign Minister @MoosaZameer to enhance the US-Maldives partnership and cooperation on climate, economic growth, and maritime security,” posted Blinken on his X handle with the photos of the meeting.

Almost echoing the sentiment, Zameer posted on his X handle, “I am delighted to meet with the Honourable @SecBlinken, Secretary of State of the US, today. I reaffirmed our commitment to further strengthen the partnership between the Maldives and US in tackling climate change, promoting democracy and cooperation in maritime security.” A statement from the Maldives Foreign Ministry said that the Maldives and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to explore new avenues “to strengthen the partnership” and acknowledged the importance of upholding a rules-based international order and expressed their commitment to regional stability, maritime security and promoting peace.

“Secretary Blinken congratulated the Maldives on the successful Presidential and Parliamentary elections and acknowledged the Maldives’ leadership in the international fora towards combating climate change and promoting environmental sustainability,” the statement said.

News portal Sun.mv said that earlier on Tuesday, Zameer met with Samantha Power, the Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

“The two deliberated on various themes related to economical advancements and protecting the environment in addition to consolidating Maldivian associations with the agency's assistance,” Edition.mv said.

Zameer had left for Washington on Sunday night, in a visit that the Foreign Ministry said seeks to “further strengthen the Maldives – US partnership and reaffirm commitment to multilateralism,” Sun.mv said.

Zameer will also travel to New York, where he will meet with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Li Junhua, media reports said.

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Published 26 June 2024, 12:15 IST

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