New Delhi, Aug 20 (ANI): Defence Minister AK Antony will begin a three-day official visit to Maldives from today.
He will be leading a high-level delegation comprising Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar, DG Armed Forces Medical Services Lt Gen NK Parmar, DG Coast Guard Vice Admiral Anil Chopra and Deputy Chief of Navy Staff Vice Admiral DK Joshi.
Shortly after his arrival at the Maldivian capital, Male', Antony will call on President Mohammed Nasheed.
He will hold talks with the top leadership of the government and the Maldives National Defence Force.
The Minister will also have bilateral discussions with his counterpart Ameen Faisal on ways of expanding defence cooperation between the two countries.
He is also scheduled to attend the closing session of the India- Maldives Friendship function besides paying a visit to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, the most visible symbol of Indo-Maldives cooperation and friendship.
The 200-bed general and speciality hospital has over the years provided Maldives greater self-reliance in the field of medical care.
Antony returns home on August 22.
India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links steeped in antiquity and enjoy close, cordial and multi-dimensional relations.
India was among the first to recognize Maldives after Independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country.
India's prompt assistance during the 1988 coup attempt, which diffused the crisis, represents a watershed in India-Maldives relations.
India's quick response and prompt assistance in their hour of need and immediate withdrawal of the troops when they were no longer required assuaged fears of any Indian dominance.
More recently, when the tsunami waves hit Maldives on December 26, 2004, India was the first country to rush relief and aid to Maldives. In April 2006, India gifted a fast attack craft, INS Tillanchang, to Maldives.(ANI)