New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday underlined that Maldives occupies a special place in the hearts of Indians and also in the country’s “Neighbourhood First” policy as he reaffirmed strong ties with the island nation in a range of fields.
Modi made these remarks during Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s visit to India. This was Solih’s third visit to India since assuming office on November 17, 2018. During the visit, Solih had restricted and delegation-level talks with PM Modi during which the two leaders expressed satisfaction at the rapid expansion of the bilateral partnership in recent years. The two leaders reiterated their commitment to further strengthen and deepen the ties.
“The India-Maldives bilateral partnership is underpinned by geographical proximity, historical, cultural ties and shared values. Prime Minister Modi underlined that the Maldives occupies a special place in the hearts of Indians and in India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy. President Solih reaffirmed his government’s ‘India-First Policy,” the MEA said in a statement.
President Solih thanked Prime Minister Modi and for standing by Maldives during the Covid-19 pandemic. The medical and financial assistance from India helped the Maldives overcome the health and economic fallouts of the pandemic.
Both leaders agreed to further deepen institutional linkages for cooperation in the areas of defence and security, investment promotion, human resource development, infrastructure development including climate and energy
They welcomed the growth in people-to-people ties through implementation of visa-free travel, better air connectivity, exchange programmes, and growing cultural and economic linkages. India has emerged as the top source of visitors for the Maldivian tourism market, contributing to its economic resilience.
The leaders acknowledged the role of the bilateral air travel bubble, created during the pandemic, in the expansion of tourism ties. The two leaders welcomed the ongoing work to operationalize the usage of Rupay Cards in Maldives and agreed to consider further measures to boost bilateral travel and tourism and economic inter-linkages.
Both leaders also acknowledged the valuable contribution of Indian teachers, nurses, medical workers, doctors, workers, and professionals in the Maldives. They welcomed the recent launch of National Knowledge Network in Maldives and directed the officials to work towards expanding its reach.
India offers $100m LoC to Maldives
Asserting that India has been and always will be the “first responder” for the Maldives, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that New Delhi has decided to provide an additional line of credit of USD 100 million to Male.
“We have decided to provide an additional line of credit of USD 100 million to the Maldives so that all projects can be completed in a timely manner,” PM Modi said. At the beginning of his speech after inaugurating the Greater Male Connectivity Project today, PM Modi noted India’s bond with the Maldives.
“Our closeness has grown,” PM Modi said at the beginning of his speech after inaugurating the Greater Male Connectivity project on Tuesday.
PM Modi and Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih jointly launched the Greater Male Connectivity project, the largest infra project of the Maldives which is being funded by New Delhi.
Both India and Maldives witnessed the exchange of agreements between the two countries. India reviewed projects for the construction of 4000 social housing units in Greater Male and will additionally provide financial support for 2000 social housing units.
“We reviewed projects for the construction of 4000 social housing units in Greater Male. We will additionally provide financial support for 2000 social housing units: PM Modi said.
Speaking about the security needs in the Indian Ocean region, PM Modi said: “The threat of trans-national crime, terrorism and drug trafficking is serious in the Indian Ocean region. That’s why coordination between India and the Maldives in the field of defence and security is vital for the peace and stability of the entire region.”
Maldives is a key neighbour of India in the Indian Ocean Region and occupies a special place in the country’s Neighbourhood First Policy. (ANI)