Describing the Maldives as a key partner in ensuring a free, open, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, the United States on Thursday said it is committed to strengthening cooperation with the South Asian island nation.
US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu was in the Maldives recently for talks with its new leadership and the civil society.
“The United States is committed to strengthening cooperation with Maldives, a key partner in ensuring a free, open, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region,” a State Department spokesperson told PTI when asked about the assistant secretary’s visit from January 29-31.
While in Malé, Lu met with Mohamed Muizzu and other senior officials to discuss shared priorities, including defense cooperation, economic growth, and democratic governance.
“They also discussed progress on establishing the US Embassy in Maldives that will further strengthen our partnership and people-to-people ties,” the spokesperson said.
Lu also met with members of civil society and higher education officials to discuss democratic governance and transparency in the Maldives, said the spokesperson.
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund after completing its Article IV Mission to the Maldives said that the South Asian nation’s post-pandemic growth has been strong, but recently normalized.
Growth is projected at 5.2 percent in 2024, as tourist arrivals are expected to rise further. Nevertheless, fiscal and external vulnerabilities have increased, calling for urgent policy adjustment, it said.
An IMF mission, led by Piyaporn Sodsriwiboon, visited Malé during January 23 – February 6, to discuss recent economic developments, the outlook and the country’s policy priorities in the context of the 2024 Article IV consultation.
“Following the pandemic-induced contraction, the Maldivian economy expanded by 13.9 percent in 2022 and is estimated to grow by 4.4 percent in 2023. As tourist arrivals are expected to rise further, growth is projected at 5.2 percent in 2024. The Velana airport terminal expansion and associated increase in hotel accommodation capacities is projected to boost growth potential. Nevertheless, uncertainty surrounding the outlook remains high and risks are tilted to the downside, calling for urgent policy adjustment,” Sodsriwiboon said.