Will work with Maldives for peaceful Indian Ocean: President

New Delhi, Jan 3 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee said Friday that India wished to work closely with Maldives to ensure peace in the Indian Ocean region.

In a statement issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan, the president said his discussions with Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Thursday, and the very fact that that his counterpart had chosen India for his first state visit after being elected “reflected the priority” attached to the bilateral relationship.
He said this was being “fully reciprocated”.
“India wishes to work with Maldives and other like-minded nations to ensure peace in the Indian Ocean region. India and Maldives are natural partners in this enterprise,” Mukherjee said.
“The two countries can do much more to enhance cooperation to achieve better maritime domain awareness and increase coordination and surveillance,” he said.
Underlining the “excellent defence and security relationship” between the two nations, Mukherjee said challenges of piracy, smuggling, extremism and religious fundamentalism were common to both the countries.
“India remains fully cognisant of the needs of Maldives in dealing with these issues and is committed to assist in achieving the defence and security objectives of Maldives,” he said.
We have always been happy to extend support and assistance to Maldives and shall be happy to continue to do so in the years to come, the president said, adding that India would like to see Maldives continue to be stable, peaceful and prosperous, fulfilling the aspirations of its citizens.
“Recent presidential elections and the smooth transition of power in Maldives is testimony to the strengthening of democracy in the country. India appreciates the efforts of Maldives political leadership in ensuring a free and fair electoral process,” the statement said.