Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid says the Maldives enjoys a close relationship with Japan, and that there is a need for coordinated action in collaborating more closely on combating piracy, countering violent extremism and narco-trafficking, and to ensure a free and open Indian Ocean that would bring about peace and prosperity to the region.

He made the comments while speaking at the ceremony held today to sign the Exchange of Notes under the Economic and Social Development Programme of the Government of Japan, for grant aid of USD 7.6 million to be extended to the Maldives Coast Guard and the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Center.

At the ceremony held today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister Shahid signed the Exchange of Notes on behalf of the Government of Maldives while Keiko Yanai, Ambassador of Japan to the Maldives signed on behalf of the Government of Japan.

The grant aid will be utilized to further strengthen the capabilities of the Maldives Coast Guard, the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Center, Sub-Regional Centers and Vessels. This includes the provision of communications equipment, professional search, and rescue dive equipment to be used by the Maldives Coast Guard during search and rescue operations.

Speaking at the ceremony, Shahid thanked Ambassador Yanai for her commitment to further enhance the close relations between Maldives and Japan and expressed his gratitude to the Government of Japan for yet another important gesture of goodwill and generosity to the Maldives.

Senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Maldives National Defence Force, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Embassy of Japan attended the signing ceremony today.