During his two-day high-level bilateral visit to Maldives, Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla on Monday called on President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and briefed him on the satisfactory status of implementation of decisions taken during the high-level interactions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Solih in December 2018 and June 2019.
Mr Solih expressed his deep appreciation for the support received from India in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular the USD 250 million financial assistance provided in September 2020 as budget support, according to a statement.
Mr Shringla elaborated on the progress made on the implementation of eight large infrastructure projects in the Maldives under Indian Lines of Credit. It is expected that five of these infrastructure projects will commence in the next two months.
During his meeting with Speaker Mohamed Nasheed, the Foreign Secretary also acknowledged his long-standing support to the strengthening of India-Maldives bilateral relations. He also appraised him on capacity building support being provided by the Parliament of India to the People's Majlis.
Mr Shringla, along with Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid witnessed the signing of the Agreement for extending USD 100 million grant to the Maldives to part-finance the Greater Male' Connectivity Project.
MoUs on setting up of a Drug-Detox Centre (MVR 7,980,536.69 grant) in Addu City and upgrading the Agricultural Research Centre in Hanimaadhoo (MVR 1, 711,434.60 grant) were also concluded.
He conveyed India's decision to support the candidature of Foreign Minister Shahid for the post of President of the 76th United Nations General Assembly Session for the year 2021-22.
In his call on Defence Minister Uza. Mariya Ahmed Didi, Shringla had briefed her on the excellent state of bilateral defence cooperation including joint EEZ surveillance, joint military exercises, and HADR.
He then complimented Minister for Tourism Dr Abdullah Mausoom for successful efforts resulting in a steady increase in tourist arrivals to the Maldives which had placed the recovery of the tourism industry on a strong footing.
He also reviewed the state of bilateral relations along with his counterpart Foreign Secretary Abdul Ghafoor, where they discussed respective national approaches to deal with the challenges of the COVID-19- pandemic. Ghafoor conveyed his Government''s appreciation for India''s substantial assistance to the Maldives to tide over the effects of the pandemic.
They positively assessed the robust growth in the diverse planks of our bilateral ties including development partnership, health cooperation, connectivity, trade, and economic relations.
Following this, Mr Shringla participated in an event to handover equipment for the setting up of Children's Parks in 67 islands spread out across the Atolls.
He also visited the site of the Ekuveni ground in Male where a new running track in being laid out funded by an Indian grant.
Both these projects are included in the roughly 30 projects being implemented in the Maldives under the Rs 90 crores (USD 13 million) grant assistance from India.
Speaking at the event, Shringla noted that the Maldives will be among the first countries to receive COVID-19 vaccines, as soon as one is developed in India.
According to the release, this is the first high-level bilateral visit from India to the Maldives this year and follows the interaction held on August 13, 2020, between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid in digital video-conference format.
Solih and Modi had also interacted through a video-conference in April to discuss assistance to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shringla began his two-day visit to the Maldives on Monday by calling on President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and held substantive discussions on India and Maldives relations, the progress of ongoing development projects under a USD 1.3 billion financial package.
Indian High Commission said that Shringla is visiting the Maldives to take forward the partnership between the two countries. He will engage with the Maldivian leadership, key Ministers, and a cross-section of the national leadership and society, the commission said.