New Delhi, July 5 Stating that both India and the Maldives are more than friends, Maj Gen Abdulla Shamaal, Chief of Defence Forces, Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), said relationship between India and his country is "not a choice but a reality".

Delivering a lecture on ''National Security Vulnerabilities: Issues for Small States'' at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) here on Friday Maj Gen Shamaal said there has been a customary security guarantying architecture that has existed for decades, if not for centuries, between both the countries.

He said the close relationship between the two countries has been quiet evident from the prompt and swift responses by the Indian armed forces. "In 1988 we have seen how the Indian armed forces came to normalise the situation and again in 2004 Tsunami and also during the water crisis".

"We do have this supportive and dependent relationship and obviously brotherly relationship between the two countries", Gen Shamaal said.

On terrorism, the Gen said that Maldives recognises terrorism as a serious threat to national security and that his country has worked on a system to deal with Violent extremism.

"Maldives has established a working intelligence structure led by the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) which deals with the issue of violent extremism," he added.

He said that violent extremist ideologies are transmitted through local networks and, more importantly, through online sources. This again created challenges for small states.

On the Indian Ocean Region, Gen Shamaal said as an Indian Ocean power, "India is set to play a key role not only as a national security provider but as a guarantor of peace and stability within the great Indian Ocean region".

The General is on a three-day visit to India. On Thursday he met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and also National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.