MoS V Muraleedharan to visit Djibouti for bilateral talks

MoS V Muraleedharan to visit Djibouti for bilateral talks

Minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan will visit Djibouti this week to firm up bilateral ties during talks with the East African country’s leadership.

The visit comes close on the heels of reports of China fully operationalising its first overseas military base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa.

Muraleedharan’s visit to Djibouti during September 21-22 will be his first trip to the country. He will meet Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed and hold talks with foreign minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf and other leaders on bilateral, regional and international issues, the external affairs ministry said on Tuesday.

Also Read: Djibouti autonomy at risk due to China’s investment strategy: Report

“The visit is expected to provide further momentum to the bilateral ties between India and Djibouti,” the ministry said. Muraleedharan will also interact with the Indian community in Djibouti.

An agreement on exemption from visa requirement for holders of diplomatic and official passports and an MoU between the Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service and the Institute of Diplomatic Studies of Djibouti will be signed during the visit.

India and Djibouti share “warm and friendly relations underpinned by historical and cultural linkages”, the external affairs ministry said.

Djibouti extended “extraordinary support” for the evacuation of Indian nationals from war-torn Yemen in 2015, and former president Ram Nath Kovind visited the country in October 2017.

India opened its mission in Djibouti in 2019, and two-way trade was valued at $755million in 2021-22. A sizeable Indian community lives in Djibouti.

China’s military base in Djibouti became fully operational earlier this year and is capable of supporting massive warships.

The base, built at a cost of $590million and under construction since 2016, supports Chinese warships deployed in the Indian Ocean.

The base became operational some five years after Chinese troops conducted live fire drills there, triggering security concerns across the region.

The base is located at the southern end of the Red Sea, astride the Bab-El-Mandeb Strait, a strategic link between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

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