India on Monday announced financial aid of $ 1.4 billion to the Maldives and inked four agreements for deeper ties with that country. The two countries also agreed to maintain peace and security in the Indian Ocean region (IOR). For the socio-economic development of Maldives, India has given the financial aid of $ 1.4 billion as a budgetary support, currency swap and concessional lines of credit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his address while jointly addressing the media at the end of talks with the visiting Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
The announcement was made at the end of bilateral talks between the leaders of the two countries. Agreements signed included MoUs on establishing mutual cooperation to improve the Ecosystem for Agribusiness and a Joint Declaration on cooperation in the field of information & Communications Technology and Electronics.
Modi said that India will have full cooperation to improve connectivity between the two countries. “Good connectivity will lead to the exchange of goods and services, information, ideas, culture and people.” And to help in further strengthening partnerships in sectors including health, human resource development, infrastructure, agriculture, capacity building, ICT and tourism.
Both leaders agreed to work together for ensuring peace and stability in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Maldives is an Indian Ocean island nation.
The two countries agreed to strengthen cooperation to enhance maritime security in the IOR through coordinated patrolling and aerial surveillance, exchange of information and capacity building.
India has been pushing for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” and has been working along with US, Japan and Australia in the region.
The visiting leader reaffirmed his government’s “India-First Policy”, and commitment to working together closely with India and expressed appreciation on the generous assistance provided by India to Maldives.
“We agreed on the mutual need for regional stability and security in the Indian Ocean,” he said. Adding that the two leaders discussed cooperation in health, education and commerce among other areas,” Solih told the media.
It may be recalled that when Prime Minister Modi had visited that country for the swearing in ceremony of Solih, he had promised India’s firm commitment for assisting Maldives in its socio-economic development programmes.
The new president accompanied by his wife arrived on a three day visit to India on Sunday, his first foreign visit since assuming office on November 17.
In a joint statement released at the end of the talks, both sides reiterated their strong commitment and support for increased cooperation in combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations both within the region and elsewhere.
India has decided to provide 1000 additional slots over next 5 years for training and capacity building in diverse fields including judicial, policing and law-enforcement, audit and financial management, local governance, community development, IT, and e-governance.
The two countries also reviewed efforts to promote bilateral trade and investment ties between the two sides and agreed to promote closer economic cooperation in sectors such as fisheries development, tourism, transportation, connectivity, health, education, information technology, new and renewable energy and communications.
While Maldives supported India’s candidature for permanent member to the UN Security Council, India welcomed Maldives’ decision to re-join the Commonwealth and as the newest member of the Indian Ocean Rim Association.