US to open embassy in Maldives; Foreign Minister Shahid calls it ‘historic step’

In a major development that will see Washington expanding its presence in the Maldives, Secretary of state Mike Pompeo has announced that the US will soon open an embassy in the National Capital Male.

Standing alongside, Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid, Pompeo said,”I am announcing a historic development in our decades-old partnership. For the first time, US intends to open an embassy here in the Maldives with a resident US ambassador.”

The development comes amidst fears of China growing its influence in the Indian Ocean region. The top US official is on a four-country visit to the region–India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia, in particular, to gather support for the Indo Pacific concept, something that is seen suspiciously by Beijing.

Now, 3 of the 5 permanent United Nations Security Council members– China, US and UK will have missions in the Indian ocean country. While China opened its mission in 2011, the UK opened its mission in 2019. As of now, there are no Russian or French missions in the country.

Maldives FM Shahid welcomed the development and said, “Secretary Pompeo’s announcement is a historic step between our two countries” and ” the opening of the first every US embassy in the Maldives will not only embody the political and the diplomatic relations but also form a bridge between the people of our 2 countries. It symbolizes the true spirit of friendship that intertwines our geographically diverse yet like-minded countries.”

Explaining,” Establishment of a US diplomatic mission right here in the Maldives would have an immense impact in the whole dynamics of our strategic partnership…improve connectivity between our 2 offices. It will create a clear path to better develop a coordinated response in our joint efforts in ensuring stability, peace and security within the region and broader Indo Pacific region.”

The United States which does not have a mission in the Maldives does operate an American Center in Male with the US embassy and envoy to Sri Lanka, Alaina B. Teplitz accredited to the country. The United States established formal diplomatic relations with the Maldives in 1966.

During the short visit, lasting for a few hours, Pompeo called on Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and discussed many issues from trade and investment to maritime security to countering terrorism and the climate emergency. Visit of Secretary Pompeo is the highest-level visit by a US Government official to the Maldives, since the visit of US Secretary of State James Addison Baker III on 24 July 1992.

US to open embassy in Maldives; Foreign Minister Shahid calls it 'historic step'