India seeks to counter China sway in Maldives with bridge project Aug 14, 2020 0 473 12345 AFPMaléIndia on Thursday pledged $500 million to build bridges and causeways in the Maldives, as New Delhi seeks to counter growing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean.The Maldives borrowed billions of dollars from Beijing and hired Chinese firms for infrastructure projects under previous President Abdulla Yameen.This stoked concerns in India and the West that China was saddling countries in Asia and beyond with unsustainable debts while expanding its sphere of influence.Under the new Maldives government, India has sought to regain influence in the archipelago nation of 340,000 people and 1,192 islands located on major East-West shipping lanes.The new investment announced takes India’s total pledged outlay to over $2 billion since President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih came to power, India’s foreign ministry said.Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid said the new money was part of a financial package to build bridges and causeways linking the capital Male to three neighbouring islets.“Once completed, the project will be the single largest infrastructure project in the Maldives,” Shahid said in a statement.In total, they will also be more than three times longer than the $200-million “China-Maldives Friendship Bridge” completed under Yameen with Chinese loans which has since been re-named.It was not clear how long the new project would take.Shahid also said his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in their talks Thursday had pledged $250 million to meet urgent needs and support efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.The virus has infected over 5,300 people and claimed 21 lives in the Maldives, where its crucial tourism industry took a battering. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES Lebanon assembly ratifies state of emergency after deadly blast Aug 14, 2020 0 2064 Duterte to skip Philippine trial of Russia virus vaccine Aug 14, 2020 0 426 Taliban inmates danger ‘to the world’: Afghan president Aug 14, 2020 0 409 55 confirmed dead after south India landslide New Delhi Fifty-five bodies have been recovered by rescuers in southern India’s Kerala state as efforts continued to find 15 people who are unaccounted for after last week’s landslide, a local official said. Heavy .. Israel and UAE to normalise ties in US-brokered deal AFP Dubai Israel and the UAE agreed Thursday to normalise ties in a US-brokered deal, only the third such accord the Jewish state has struck with an Arab nation, in which it pledged to halt annexation of Palestinian lands. .. Pakistan launches vaccination drive to rebuild immunity against polio DPA Islamabad Pakistan on Thursday launched a vaccination campaign against polio to protect tens of thousands of children from the crippling disease after months of suspension due to coronavirus outbreak. The .. 33 dead in Niger floods Abidjan Thirty-three people in Niger have died and more than 80,000 have been affected by floods caused by heavy rains, the country’s emergency services said on Thursday. The worst-hit regions are Maradi in .. Africa to see slower rises in virus cases after reopening: WHO AFP Johannesburg Africa will continue see new coronavirus cases as countries begin to reopen lockdown-devastated economies, but increases will not be exponential, the head of the African branch of the World Health ..