His Excellency President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has met with the President of the Portuguese Republic, His Excellency Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, on the sidelines of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The meeting was held at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York City.

President Solih briefed the Portuguese President on the situation in the Maldives and the successful measures taken by the Maldives government to tackle the pandemic, including the goal to vaccinate the entire population of the Maldives at the earliest. The President further mentioned that with the diminishing positive cases, the Government has significantly reduced restrictions in the Maldives for travellers and tourists.

The Portuguese President noted that 95 per cent of the population have been fully vaccinated. He congratulated the Maldives on winning the Presidency of the 76th Session of the General Assembly, noting that the Presidency represents the whole world in ongoing global efforts to rebuild economically and socially in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Speaking about climate change, the Portuguese President emphasised that climate change goes beyond theoretical facts. He noted that that climate change has felt consequences for Portugal and the Maldives since both are maritime countries. He mentioned the Oceans Conference to be held next year in Lisbon, co-hosted by Portugal and Kenya. The Portuguese President extended an invitation to President Solih to attend this event and to undertake a state visit to Portugal during this time.

Noting the importance of eradicating plastic pollution and conserving the health of oceans, President Solih wished the Oceans Conference every success and expressed hope that it will lead to creative solutions. Both sides expressed interest to expand existing economic relations. The Portuguese President flagged tourism, renewable energy and digitalisation as three areas that the two countries could consolidate coordination in. With regard to digitalisation, the Portuguese President highlighted the upcoming technology conference, Web Summit, in 2021 that the Maldives may consider participating in.

President Solih reciprocated the Portuguese President’s interest in expanding cooperation in the tourism sector and expressed interest to explore avenues to widen mutually beneficial investment opportunities with Portugal and the wider European Union. Both sides also discussed collaborating in the area of blue economy, an area that both countries have keen interest in. The call ended with both sides reiterating their commitment to elevating the amicable ties between the Maldives and Portugal in the coming years.

The Maldives and Portugal established diplomatic relations 26 years ago, on 9 February 1995.