Home General Blinken Welcomes Maldives Counterpart, Says U.S. Seeks Deeper Ties

Blinken Welcomes Maldives Counterpart, Says U.S. Seeks Deeper Ties


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met visiting Maldives Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer, emphasising Washington’s desire for a deeper partnership with the Indian Ocean island state. The U.S. stands with the Maldives in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region and addressing climate change, said Blinken.

Strengthening Ties Amid Geopolitical Shifts

Zameer’s visit comes two months after President Mohamed Muizzu’s party won a landslide in the parliamentary elections. President Muizzu has shifted the Maldives’ foreign policy towards China, moving away from India, a key U.S. ally in countering China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific.

To enhance its engagement, the U.S. opened an embassy in Malé in 2023, targeting the low-lying archipelago of about half a million people amidst China’s growing regional influence. Post-election, Washington announced strengthened ties in economic development, education, security cooperation and climate crisis response.

U.S. Commitment And Support

“For us, the Maldives is an important partner, and we want to make sure that we’re a good partner to the Maldives,” Blinken told Zameer. “We stand together in working to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region and dealing with the challenge posed by climate change. We’re working together to ensure a secure maritime space and fundamentally working together to build a prosperous future for our people.”

The State Department highlighted the U.S. donation of eight patrol boats to the Maldives and planned provision of $2 million in hydrographic support to help mitigate rising sea-level impact. The meeting also explored further cooperation on climate crisis mitigation, economic growth promotion and maritime security.

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Maldives’ Appreciation And Future Collaboration

Zameer expressed the Maldives government’s appreciation for the high-level exchanges with the U.S. since taking office. “I really look forward to having a very fruitful relationship with the U.S. and, also, I think we have had in past governments as well. So, we will continue to be working together,” he said.

India’s Role And Concerns

India has responded to the Maldives’ geopolitical shifts by replacing 80 soldiers with civilians at President Muizzu’s request. These troops supported helicopters and aircraft provided by New Delhi, mainly used for marine surveillance, search-and-rescue and medical evacuation operations.

Additionally, the Maldives’ permission for a Chinese research vessel to dock at its port has caused concern in New Delhi. In March, India opened a new naval base near the Maldives to enhance surveillance in the Indian Ocean. Despite these strains, India’s development projects in the archipelago continue to progress.

The U.S. seeks to strengthen its partnership with the Maldives amid shifting geopolitical dynamics, emphasising collaboration in promoting regional stability, maritime security and addressing climate change. As the Maldives balances its ties with China and India, its strategic importance in the Indo-Pacific region remains significant.

With inputs from Reuters