Assalamu alaikum varahmathullahi va barakaathuhu
Your Excellency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Honored Member of the Most Honorable Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzudin.
Distinguished Members of the Indian Delegation,
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a distinct honour and privilege for me to welcome Prime Minister Modi, and his delegation to the Maldives. Allow me to offer my heartfelt congratulations on your historic success in the recent Lok Sabha elections.
We are deeply honoured by Your Excellency’s choice of Maldives as your first destination abroad, just days after taking office. It is truly reflective of the renewed vigour and strength of our friendship.
The Maldives and India have a traditionally strong relationship that has stood the test of time. Our countries are intimately linked by the Indian Ocean. We share much in common – our values, our histories and our cultures are intertwined. Our peoples have been interacting with each other long before the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries.
Mr Prime Minister, from the very beginning, my Government has committed to delivering people-centred growth through an inclusive and just government. We appreciate India’s support towards realising this vision. We thank you for your generosity in helping fulfil our developmental objectives.
During this visit, the Prime Minister and I took stock of the progress made since we last met, and discussed ways in which we can further expand and strengthen our relationship. The number of MoUs we signed today, and the inauguration of two projects: the Composite Training Facility of MNDF, and the Coastal Surveillance Radar System, will contribute to this objective.
The Visa Facilitation Agreement we signed in December last year is now in force, easing the movement of people between our countries. The Prime Minister and I acknowledged the important contributions our respective communities residing in the Maldives and India make to enrich our cultures and economies. We agreed to cooperate even closer on consular matters.
We agreed that increasing connectivity is important for the mutual advantage of both countries. The MoU we signed today to establish the Ferry Services between Kochi, Kulhudhuffushi and Male’ will further reinforce the links between our two countries, in areas of trade, tourism, and in the exchange of goods and people. We look forward to the early implementation of this project.
Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital will always stand as an enduring symbol of the friendship between our two countries. We recognise and thank the Government of India for the continuous support to develop the facilities and human resources at the hospital. The MoU we signed today on health cooperation, and with the Regional Cancer Centre, marks yet another milestone in India’s assistance in strengthening healthcare services and facilities in the Maldives.
Investing in skills development is a high priority for my Government. Today, we signed important MoUs that will help enhance our human resources. The first was between the Civil Service Commission and the National Centre for Good Governance to train up to 1000 civil servants in five years; the second is an MoU on cooperation in customs capacity building, which aims to train and build the capacity of our customs officials in carrying out their duties. We also signed an MoU on cooperation in hydrography, which will aim to enhance local capacity in a very specialised field. The Prime Minister and I also discussed the utilisation of the 1000 additional training slots offered by the Government of India during my visit in December.
I expressed our appreciation to the Prime Minister, for the financial support extended to the Government of Maldives, in the forms of budgetary support, T-bills, currency swap and Line of Credit. We have already received the budgetary grant, as well as the subscription through T-bills
We also discussed the progress made since the signing of the US$800 million Dollar Line of Credit Agreement in March 2019. We are working towards the prompt resumption of the socio-economic development projects approved under the LoC, including in areas of water and sanitation, urban development, and support for small and medium enterprise development. We also discussed to work on other projects in the pipeline including in sectors such as port development, health, agriculture, fisheries, tourism and energy.
We also discussed the utilisation of the grant assistance announced in March 2019, following the former EAM’s visit, for community infrastructure projects, healthy lifestyles, access to education, health, law and order, and environmental protection.
In addition to bilateral issues, the Prime Minister and I also discussed international issues of mutual concern. I am heartened that the Prime Minister agrees that climate change is an urgent threat that needs our immediate attention. We agreed to work together to strengthen the global response to climate change. I was happy to inform the Prime Minister of our ratification of the Framework Agreement for Establishing the International Solar Alliance. We also agreed on the need to reform the main UN bodies, including the UN Security Council, and on the need to enhance the voice and participation of developing countries in international economic decision-making.
I conveyed the Government of Maldives’s strong rejection of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. And our firm commitment to working with all countries, in combatting terrorism, and countering violent extremism within the region and elsewhere.
Mr Prime Minister, my Government, since assuming office, has been fully committed to a resurgence of relations between our two countries, and with our neighbours. The preservation of peace and harmony in the Indian Ocean region is of utmost priority for my Government. We believe that this is essential not only for the smooth conduct of international trade, but also equally important for the development, peace, and stability of the Maldives.
Our relationship with India will always be of the highest priority. Your presence at my swearing-in ceremony, Mr Prime Minister, along with with with my visit to India last year, and the recent numerous exchanges of high-level visits have brought a renewed sense of dynamism to our relations.
Mr Prime Minister, I thank you for the very personal commitment you have shown in being a friend and partner to the Maldives. I wish Your Excellency, and the people of India peace, progress and prosperity. The Maldives will always remain a true friend of India, firmly committed to our shared vison of peace and development in our countries and our region.