Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, in New Delhi on January 2, 2014.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, in New Delhi on January 2, 2014.

India, Maldives agree to strengthen cooperation in defence, security, economic fields

New Delhi, January 2, 2014

India and Maldives today agreed on a number of initiatives to strengthen their relationship, especially bilateral defence and security cooperation, including through training, supply of equipment, capacity building, joint patrolling and aerial and maritime surveillance.
At talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom here, the two sides also agreed that their cooperation was indispensable for the maritime security of the two countries and essential for promoting peace, prosperity and security in the Indian Ocean region.
"We are also conscious of the need to remain vigilant against terrorism and we share the firm commitment to remain sensitive to each other’s concerns and not allow our territories to be used by any inimical quarters," Dr Singh said later at a joint media interaction with Mr Yameen.
"As two close neighbours, the development aspirations and security interests of India and Maldives are closely linked," he said.
This is Mr Yameen's first state visit to any country after assuming office in November last year.
"I had the pleasure of receiving him in Delhi in August last year and we are deeply honoured that he has chosen India as his first destination as President of Maldives. I can’t think of a more apt beginning to the New Year than to welcome back in our midst the newly elected President of a very close and friendly neighbor with whom we also share very vital interests," the Prime Minister said.
At their discussions, Dr Singh congratulated Mr Yameen on his victory and the people of Maldives for a successful and peaceful election that has consolidated democracy in Maldives and paved the way for reconciliation, stability and continued economic and social progress.
He said the two sides had agred to deep their trilateral maritime security cooperation with Sri Lana and looked forward to expanding it to other countries in the Indian Ocean.
"India is ready to provide further assistance and support to Maldives in strengthening our collective ability to address our shared security challenges," he said.
Dr Singh and Mr Yameen discussed ways and means of expanding bilateral economic relations.
"Our bilateral trade is around Rs. 700 crores, and the balance is overwhelmingly in India’s favour. I would like to see a more balanced growth in our bilateral trade, and we will certainly do all we can to encourage the flow of Indian tourists to Maldives. Increase in Indian investments in Maldives would also contribute to expansion of our economic relations. In this context, I requested President Yameen to amicably settle the issue of Male International Airport and address the problems that some of our investors are facing," he said.
He said that, as part of immediate measures, India was extending a standby credit facility of $ 25 million to Maldives for imports from India.
India has also agreed to meet the requirements of petroleum products in Maldives and has asked its agencies to work out the best possible terms and arrangements.
"We will continue to further develop our development partnership, including in areas such as education and health," he said.
Dr Singh said people-to-people contacts should be characterized by the natural ease of movement that befits two close neighbours.
"Our air connectivity has improved, and we have also agreed to liberalize our visa regimes, especially for those coming from Maldives for medical treatment," he said.
The two leaders also discussed the cooperation between the two countries in global and regional fora.
"As members of SAARC, we agreed to continue to work for a more integrated and connected South Asia. I also expressed our appreciation to President Yameen for his country’s steadfast support to India's candidature for permanent membership of an expanded UN Security Council," he said.
Dr Singh said India was committed to supporting peace, stability and progress in Maldives.
"I am confident that under President Yameen’s able leadership, Maldives will be able to fulfill the aspirations of its citizens and play its due role in the region, thereby opening a new chapter in our bilateral relations," he added.
NNN

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