Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla and United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed on Monday COVID-19 aid and bilateral cooperation, according to State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus
Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla and United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed on Monday COVID-19 aid and bilateral cooperation, according to State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.
She said that “joint efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic” figured in their talks on “our growing bilateral cooperation on issues of regional and international concern.”
Pompeo reaffirmed the importance of the relationship with the strategically located nation and they “agreed to look for additional opportunities to advance the strong and growing U.S.-Maldives relationship,” she said.
Maldives has received $2 million from the US Economic Support Fund for expanding “social-protection services led by local civil-society organisations” and help them advocate for COVID recovery policies, according to a State Department fact sheet.
It said the aid will also provide Maldives with technical help to develop effective economic, fiscal, monetary measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
US investments in Maldives include more than $30 million in total assistance since 2004, it said.
According to WorldoMeters that tracks the pandemic, Maldives has had 2,491 COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday morning with 12 deaths. But given the Maldives population of only 540,641, it is a high rate of infection and mortality, but its 56,916 tests are impressive in terms of the proportion of population covered.
Strategically, the archipelago nation's location in the Arabian Sea in proximity to India and opening to the Indian Ocean is important for several international players.
China made inroads into the Maldives under the former President Abdulla Yameen and trapped the country in debts.
The World Bank considers the Maldives as one of the countries vulnerable to “debt distress” or at high risk because of the loans from China, which is estimated at $1.5 billion amounting to 45 per cent of its national debt.
After a period of political instability when Yameen had Vice President Ahmed Adeeb arrested and a national emergency was imposed, some measure of stability returned after the 2018 election when Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the Maldivian Democratic Party defeated Yameen of the Progressive Party of the Maldives.
Under Solih's leadership, Maldives has turned away from China.