NEW DELHI: Maldives Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi, in conversation with StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi, says she hopes the resumption of NSA-level trilateral talks will take place soon in Malé. She also was positive on the possibility of re-including Mauritius and the Seychelles as observers in the trilaterals.
The India-Maldives-Sri Lanka NSA-level meetings were put on ice post 2014 after ex-Maldivian President Yameen Abdulla Yameen’s anti-India policies steered that country towards China. Three maritime cooperation trilaterals were held in 2011( Malé), in Colombo (2013) and in Delhi (2014).
Mariya Didi also talks about how impressed she was with the Lucknow DefExpo. She expressed interest in putting to good use India’s drone technolgies in anti-terrorism, anti-drug and anti-piracy operations to police the waters around the Maldives. Mariya Didi said the Coastal Radar Surveillance System will be fully operational soon. She acknowledges India being very forthcoming to all requests in the past and says current requests are being treated very positively by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat. One of the requests is for another patrol vessel like the Kaamyaab (gifted by India) which she says is tailor-made for the Maldives. The Defence Minister thanked New Delhi for evacuating Maldivians from coronavirus-hit Wuhan in China. India will also be providing protection for personnel dealing with HAZMAT(hazardous materials). Mariya Didi looked back at the eighth anniversary of ex-President Mohamed Nasheed being ousted from power(February 7, 2012) and the protests that were dealt with violently.
Mariya Ahmed Didi is Maldives’ first woman Defence Minister, multiple-time MP, her party (MDP’s) first woman chairperson and the country’s first woman lawyer.