The United States will provide US$20 million worth of grant aid to support sustainable development projects in the Maldives, US ambassador Alaina Teplitz told the local press Wednesday.
The ambassador hailed a USAID Development Assistance Agreement signed the previous day as “a milestone in the US-Maldives partnership.” The US$20 million bilateral deal “underscores the US commitment to advancing democracy & economic growth,” she tweeted.
At a meeting with local media outlets Wednesday morning, Teplitz explained the grant aid would fund projects over the next five years. She described the aid agreement as a “very significant commitment to assisting public financial management, rule of law and other areas,” according to Raajje TV.
Under a Development Objective Grant Agreement signed Tuesday, the US committed US$3 million to “improve the resilience of individuals and communities to drive inclusive and sustainable development,” the foreign ministry said.
Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and Ambassador Teplitz also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Fulbright Academic Exchange Programme, which “aims to promote mutual understanding between the peoples of the Maldives and the United States through wider exchange of knowledge through educational activities.”
The agreement renewed the Fulbright exchange programme for a further five years. The first agreement was signed in 2003.
The development assistance comes amid renewed ties between the Maldives and Western allies since the new administration took office.
In December, the US pledged “US$7 million in foreign military financing to support Maldives maritime security and control its territorial waters and US$3 million to support civil society and help protect Maldives environment.”
Foreign Minister Shahid went on to meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a trip to Washington in February.
After the meeting, Secretary Pompeo announced “the intent of the State Department to work with Congress to provide $9.75 million in additional assistance for Maldives” and “hailed the signing of a memorandum of understanding to enhance aviation security and an intent by USAID to facilitate sustained collaboration with Maldives.”
Meanwhile, in her third trip to the Maldives since assuming the post last year, Ambassador Teplitz – who is based in Sri Lanka at the embassy accredited to both countries – visited three islands in Lhaviyani atoll earlier this week.
On Wednesday afternoon, she went to a café in the capital Malé in solidarity with a group of women who started a campaign called #OccupySaiHotaa last year to challenge the taboo of women frequenting eateries.