With the recent improvement in relations, India and the Maldives will put forward several outstanding measures to promote defense cooperation in the coming months, diplomatic sources said.
These include the rental of a Dornier aircraft, the inclusion of the Maldives in the network of Indian coastal radar channels and a major exercise in humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
"The agreement to lease a Dornier aircraft for maritime surveillance is being finalized. This should be done in the next few months, at the latest at the beginning of next year, "diplomatic sources said. L & # 39; Hindu, adding that the Maldives sought to transform their army considerably and that cooperation would be beneficial to the island nation.
New Delhi sent a letter of exchange for a two-year lease from the Dornier at the request of Male a few years ago. But the Maldives did not finalize the deal because of the friction in the relationship. In this context, sources pointed out that the two advanced combat helicopters (ALH) donated by India were "of great service". They were flying 24 hours a day for medical evacuation and search and rescue operations.
India had offered two ALHs to the Maldives in 2013 and each was operated by the Indian Coast Guard and the Indian Navy. However, a controversy erupted last year after the previous Maldivian government refused to extend visas for Indian military personnel and asked India to take over the helicopters.
Work on radar stations to connect the Maldives to the Indian coastal radar chain is progressing rapidly. "Two of the stations are functional and the third is at an advanced stage. It should be fully linked by January, "added the sources.
In the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks, India has started to set up a network of coastal radar channels to monitor the movement of high seas. Mauritius, Seychelles and Sri Lanka are already part of network.
At the recent Marine Conclave in Goa for the Indian Ocean coastal states, the focus was mainly on information sharing. India has offered to share the movement of maritime traffic in real time. Recently, the navy has intensified its cooperation with the countries of the region.
Terrorism is a major threat to the Maldives and maritime security is the main concern, diplomatic sources said.
A proposal for a joint humanitarian and disaster relief exercise is under preparation. The goal is to draft all the agencies of the two countries involved in the region, officials said.
Recently, the Indian Navy has become the first to respond to calls for help from countries affected by natural disasters in the Indian Ocean region. The exercise is particularly important because of the increase in the number of natural disasters in the region, said one official.
Bilateral relations have been on a downward trajectory since the Maldives began to move closer to China under President Abdulla Yameen's previous regime. However, relations normalized after the inauguration of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.