Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih witnessing the exchange of MoUs between the two countries at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi on August 2, 2022.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih witnessing the exchange of MoUs between the two countries at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi on August 2, 2022.

Modi, Solih agree to strengthen India-Maldives comprehensive partnership

New Delhi, August 2, 2022

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today held talks with Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih during which they reviewed all dimensions of their bilateral cooperation and reiterated their commitment to further strengthen and deepen the mutually beneficial comprehensive partnership.

The two 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.

In a joint media interaction with Solih, Modi said they had also exchanged views on important regional and global issues during their extensive discussions.

Among other things, the two leaders welcomed the launch of work today on the Greater Male Connectivity Project- a US $ 500 million India-funded project. It will be the largest infrastructure project in the Maldives.

"We also reviewed projects for the construction of 4,000 social housing units in Greater Male today. I am happy to announce that we will additionally provide financial support for 2000 social housing units.

"We have also decided to provide an additional $100 million line of credit, so that all projects can be completed in a time-bound manner," Modi said.

He said the two sides had increased their cooperation against the common threats of trans-national crime, terrorism and drug trafficking in the Indian Ocean, which are serious.

"And therefore, close contact and coordination between India and Maldives in the field of defence and security is vital for the peace and stability of the entire region," he said the cooperation would cover areas such as capacity building and training support for Maldivian security officials.

He announced that India would provide 24 vehicles and one naval boat for the Maldives Security Force. The two sides will also cooperate in building police facilities in 61 islands of the Maldives.

"The Maldivian government has set a target to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030. I congratulate President Solih for this commitment, and also assure that India will extend all possible support to the Maldives to achieve this goal. India has taken up its initiative of One World, One Sun, One Grid internationally, and under this we can take effective steps with Maldives," Modi said.

"Today, the India-Maldives partnership is not only working in the interest of the citizens of both the countries but is also becoming a source of peace, stability and prosperity for the region.

"India has been and will continue to be the first responder in any need or crisis of Maldives," he added.

This is Solih's third visit to India since assuming office on November 17, 2018. He is accompanied by a high-level delegation including the Ministers of Finance, Economic Development and Gender, Family & Social Services, apart from a business delegation.

Apart from holding restricted and delegation-level talks with Solih, Prime Minister Modi also hosted a lunch for him and his delegation.

Solih also met President Droupadi Murmu and congratulated her on assuming office as India's 15th President.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar called on President Solih earlier in the day. During the Mumbai leg of his visit, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari will call on him.

A joint statement issued by the two said Modi underlined India's "Neighbourhood First" policy and Solih reaffirmed his government's "India First" policy.

President Solih thanked Prime Minister Modi and the Government of India for standing by the Government and the people of the 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. India was the first partner to gift Covid-19 vaccines to Maldives.

Both leaders 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 for the Maldivian tourism market, contributing to economic resilience.

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 within the country.

Both leaders expressed satisfaction at the growth in bilateral trade since 2019. Prime Minister Modi and President Solih noted the operations of the direct cargo vessel service between India and Maldives since September 2020 and desired that the service become an enabler of increased bilateral trade.

India-Maldives development partnership has witnessed rapid growth in recent years and covers large infrastructure projects, community-level grant projects and capacity building programmes which are based purely on requirements of the Maldives.

The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the progress achieved in other Indian funded projects including the Addu Roads project, provision of water and sewerage facilities at 34 islands, and restoration of Hukuru Miskiy (Friday Mosque). The two leaders welcomed the approval of the revised DPR of the Gulhifalhu Port Project and directed officials to commence implementation at the earliest as it will provide world class port facility for Greater Male’ replacing the existing port and relocation of facilities from Male’ City.

The two leaders also welcomed final approval of the Indian side for signing of the Hanimaadhoo Airport Development project EPC contract and expressed happiness that implementation would commence shortly. The two leaders noted with satisfaction the finalisation of the feasibility report of the Cancer Hospital building project in Laamu and its financial closure through the Government of India Line of Credit.

Recognizing that the security of India and the Maldives are inter-linked, the two leaders reiterated their assurance to be mindful of each other’s concerns on the security and stability of the region; and to not allow their respective territories to be used for any activity inimical to the other.

They agreed on energizing cooperation in maritime safety and security, maritime domain awareness, and, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief through the implementation of ongoing projects and capacity building initiatives. Prime Minister Modi reaffirmed India’s commitment to strengthen cooperation in line with India’s Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) vision.

Prime Minister Modi announced supply of the second Landing Assault Craft (LCA) and a replacement ship for earlier provided CGS Huravee from Government of India for Maldives National Defence Force to Government of Maldives.

The leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms and called for enhanced coordination between the security agencies of the two countries to thwart radicalisation, violent extremism, terrorism and narco-trafficking. While acknowledging progress since the First Meeting of the Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism held in April 2021, the two leaders directed the officials to further strengthen cooperation in various areas, including cyber- security.

The leaders witnessed exchange of MoUs/ Agreements in the following areas during the visit: Collaboration on potential fishing zone forecast capacity building; Cooperation in the area of cyber security; Capacity building of women development committees and local government authorities of Maldives; Cooperation in disaster management; US$ 41 million Buyer’s Credit Agreement to construct police infrastructure; and Letter of Intent for Buyer’s Credit financing of 2,000 social housing units.

President Solih reiterated his invitation to the President of India to make a State Visit to the Maldives. President Solih also invited the Prime Minister of India to undertake a visit to the Maldives.

NNN

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