The relationship between the Maldives and India today is "stronger than ever" and New Delhi has been the first and best responder to Malé in all times of need, the island nation's Defence Minister Mariya Didi has said.
In a recorded video message played during a defence conclave here today, Ms Didi also appreciated India's support to the Maldives in all areas of development.
"Today, the relationship between the Maldives and India is stronger than ever. It's not anchored by our shared values, history and perspectives alone. India is and has been our first and best responder in all times of need," she said.
From extending help after the 2004 tsunami disaster to recently assisting in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, India's helping hand was "the most immediate and visible", she added.
In September last year, India provided financial assistance of USD 250 million to the Maldives to help it mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic.
Later, the Maldives thanked India for what it said was the "single-largest financial assistance from a donor during this pandemic".
"On behalf of the President and the people of the Maldives, I express my deepest appreciation to the government and people of India for the long-standing tradition of assistance and support extended in all areas of our nation''s development," Ms Didi said.
In February this year, India had reaffirmed its commitment to the Maldives' security and signed a USD 50 million defence Line of Credit agreement with the strategically vital Indian Ocean island nation to boost its maritime capabilities.
"We wish India all the best in its efforts to build an 'Atmanirbhar India', a beacon of self-reliance and a hinge of stability in our neighbourhood and beyond," Ms Didi said.
The defence conclave was held at the Constitution Club of India here and attended by various defence experts and military attaches of various foreign countries, among others.
Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka Gen (retd) Kamal Gunaratne also sent a video message for the event, while Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar joined via a video link from Bengaluru.
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