U.S. to open embassy in Maldives amid geopolitical competition with PRC

U.S. to open embassy in Maldives amid geopolitical competition with PRC

Nike Ching/Voice of America News

The United States is opening an embassy in the Maldives to strengthen economic and security cooperation five decades after the nations established diplomatic ties.

The move reflects “the continued growth of the U.S.-Maldives relationship and underscoring the United States’ unshakeable commitment to Maldives and the Indo-Pacific region,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement after meeting in the Maldives with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid.

The decision is seen as part of a U.S. push for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific to curb the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) attempts to gain influence. (Pictured: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepares to travel from Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Maldives in October 2020.)

The U.S. operates an American Center in Maldives’ capital, Malé. The U.S. ambassador and embassy staff in Sri Lanka are accredited to Maldives and make regular visits to the island archipelago.

The U.S. and Maldives signed a defense agreement in September 2020 to “deepen engagement and cooperation” in the peace and security of the Indian Ocean, according to the U.S. State Department.

In recent years, U.S. naval vessels have regularly conducted port calls at Maldives, which has supported U.S. efforts to combat terrorism and terrorist financing.

The U.S. has provided U.S. $2 million in assistance to Maldives for COVID-19 recovery and has pledged millions in economic support aimed at strengthening Maldives’ fiscal transparency, maritime security and counterterrorism.

The U.S. established diplomatic relations with Maldives in 1966 following its independence from Britain.