Antony ends Maldives visit, praises mutual ties

Defence Minister AK Antony said India considers Maldives as a close neighbour.

Male: Wrapping up his visit to Maldives, during which India announced a slew of measures to boost defence capabilities of this Indian ocean archipelago, Defence Minister AK Antony on Monday said there was further scope for improvement in bilateral ties.

Antony said India considers Maldives as a close neighbour and noted that bilateral defence relationship was growing as the two nations being close neighbours, share common security interests among others.

"Both countries have close relations with scope for improvement in all areas," Antony told a news agency.

Antony said India would continue to work closely with Maldives to strengthen the bilateral relationship.

Antony, had yesterday said the two countries can work together to tackle challenges like terrorism, piracy and drug trafficking to maintain peace and stability.

He had inaugurated `Senahiya`, a military hospital built with Indian assistance, and also met his Maldivian counterpart Colonel (Retd) Mohamed Nazim.

India had also decided to station a Defence Attache here besides training Maldivian helicopter pilots and defence personnel.

Antony later met Maldives` Minister of State for Foreign Affairs at Kurumba Village Resort in the morning, where the Minister was staying during the visit.

He also paid a courtesy call to the President of Maldives Waheed Hassan, before leaving for India.

The Defence Minister was accompanied by a high level delegation comprising of Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma, Western Naval Commander Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha, Director General Military Training Lt Gen S P Tanwar and DG AFMS Air Marshal DP Joshi.