As the Chinese influence in South Asian countries increases, the US is seeking a USD 30 million “Bay of Bengal” security initiative to provide foreign military financing to the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. This follows the already announced USD 64 million announced by the US government for regional activities to support infrastructure growth and connectivity.
In a report submitted to the House Foreign Affairs sub-committee, Alice G Wells, Senior State Department Official for South Asian Affairs urged the Congress to support the new “Bay of Bengal” security initiative of USD 30 million in foreign military financing that will build maritime and border security capacity for Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. She further requested USD 64 million for regional activities to support raising infrastructure standards, supporting regional energy and digital connectivity, and bolstering cybersecurity in the report.
The House Foreign Affairs sub-committee is planned to hold a meeting on Thursday regarding the US interests in South Asia and the FY 2020 budget.
As the State Department of South Asian Affairs continues to explore options for providing additional resources, the department has requested USD 468 million for South Asia for fiscal 2020 which increases regional economic and security assistance and development funding for Maldives and India.
Regarding the Maldives as an exciting new addition to the Indo-Pacific, Alice G Wells stated in her report that the Maldives is a testament to the power of a free, open and rules-based Indo-Pacific region. She also commended President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih stating that he has taken aim at preceding regime’s secretive procurements of debt-laden, vanity infrastructure and has strengthened his outreach to the US and India.