Press Trust of India
MALE, 12 NOV: Taking their bilateral ties to a new high, India and Maldives today inked six agreements, including a historic framework accord on development cooperation with a standby credit facility of USD 100 million to help stabilise Maldivian fiscal position and another to jointly combat terrorism.
Prime Minister Mr Manmohan Singh, on his first state visit to Maldives, held discussions with President Mohammed Nasheed in the Presidential Palace and signed with him a framework agreement on cooperation for development. The agreement is a blue print for cooperation in areas such as trade and investment, food security, fisheries development, tourism, transportation, information technology, new and renewable energy, communications and enhancing connectivity by air and sea. Mr Singh is also the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Maldives in eight years after his predecessor Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s trip. Total trade between the two countries stood at Rs 395 crore in 2009-10.
As part of a multi-pronged approach to deal with the security issues and problems on account of terror and piracy, India will support the construction of a National Police Academy for capacity building of Maldives. After the signing ceremony, Mr Singh told a joint Press conference that the two leaders discussed all issues, including the future cooperation in the bilateral partnership as also the cooperation which was already on a high growth trajectory.
On his part, President Nasheed thanked the Prime Minister for the framework agreement of cooperation on a number of areas that will be beneficial to both the countries and go a long way in Indian assistance to Maldives’ development and progress.
Recognising the fact that the two countries face the common challenges of extremism and religious fundamentalism, they also signed agreements on combating terrorism, drug trafficking, disaster management and coastal security and transfer of sentenced persons. The agreements were signed by foreign secretary Mr Ranjan Mathai and Maldivian permanent secretary in the ministry of foreign affairs Mohammed Nasir.
The pacts signed included one on renovation of the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, the main referral hospital in the country. Mr Singh said work would be taken up on full swing and India expects to hand over the renovated facility by 2013 May.
Mr Singh also became the first foreign dignitary to address the multi-party “People’s Majlis” ~ Maldives’ parliament ~ after it came into being in 2009.
Mr Singh read out his speech outlining the “time-tested” relationship India had with this picturesque island nation as all the 75 MPs of the Majlis listened in rapt attention. On his first visit to Maldives as the Prime Minister, Mr Singh said it was an “unforgettable journey” to the country for him which he will cherish. “I am overwhelmed by the breathtaking beauty and serenity” of this country, he said.
Majlis Speaker Abdullah Shahid welcomed him saying that his country has lot to learn from India, a leading economic giant and the largest democracy in the world. Mr Singh acknowledged that it was a unique honour for him to address the Majlis. “I am truly honoured by this gesture accorded to me and my country,” he said.
The Prime Minister also conveyed belated greetings to the people of Maldives on their Republic Day, which was celebrated yesterday.
Mr Singh’s wife Gursharan Kaur and Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed’s wife Laila were present at the Majlis during the address.
Source: The Statesman
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