U.S. opens embassy in Maldives amid geopolitical competition with China

US NEWS

The United States opens an embassy in the Maldives to strengthen economic and security cooperation, five decades after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The move reflects “the ongoing development of US-Maldives relations and underlines the United States’ unwavering commitment to the Maldives and the Indo-Pacific region,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday following meetings with Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid.

This decision is viewed in the context of Washington’s desire to create a free and open Indo-Pacific region, limiting Beijing’s influence in the region. The United States does not currently have a consulate or embassy in the Maldives, but an American center operates in the country’s capital, Male.

The US Ambassador and Embassy staff in Sri Lanka are accredited in the Maldives and regularly visit the archipelago.

On September 10, the United States and the Maldives signed a defense agreement aimed at “deepening interaction and cooperation” in the area of ​​peace and security in the Indian Ocean, the State Department said. India, which has traditionally been skeptical of a foreign military presence near its borders, has taken the deal positively, US officials said.

In recent years, US naval vessels have regularly entered Maldivian ports. The country supports US efforts to combat terrorism and terrorist financing.

The United States has provided $ 2 million in assistance to the Maldives to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Washington also pledged to provide economic support aimed at strengthening the financial transparency of the Maldives, maritime security and the fight against terrorism.

The United States established diplomatic relations with the Maldives in 1966 after the archipelago gained independence from Britain.

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