New Delhi: Against the backdrop of growing Chinese influence in Maldives, Defence Minister A K Antony will be in the island republic on a three-day visit beginning Saturday.
During the first state visit after the change of regime in Sri Lanka, Antony will hold parleys with his Maldivian counterpart and call on President Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik, Ministry officials said here.
The Defence Minister, who last visited Male in 2009, is also expected to extend Indian help in further strengthening the military capabilities of the island nation, they said.
Defence Minister will inaugurate the Maldivian Military Hospital there which has been built in collaboration with India, they said.
The visit comes at a time when the Chinese have built their own embassy there and have strengthened its relations with the government there.
The Maldivian President also visited China recently where he reportedly secured loans worth USD 500 million from Beijing. This is USD 350 million more than promised to Male by New Delhi earlier this year.
Eyebrows were raised in India when China opened its embassy in Male just before the SAARC summit in November last year.
Meanwhile, before leaving for Male on September 15, the Defence Minister will flag-off the INS Sudarshini in Kochi for its visit to ASEAN nations.


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