India, Maldives Ink 6 Pacts As PM Narendra Modi, President Solih Hold Talks

MALE, Jun 8 (PTI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih held wide-ranging talks on Saturday as the two countries signed six agreements to strengthen bilateral ties in a number of key areas including defence and maritime.
PM Modi arrived in the Indian Ocean archipelago on Saturday on his first foreign visit after re-election as Prime Minister to strengthen the bilateral ties, reflecting the importance India attaches to its ”Neighbourhood First” policy.
The first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was for cooperation in the fields of hydrography. Another was on health.
The other agreements included on the establishment of passenger and cargo services by sea, cooperation in customs capacity building between the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs of India and the Maldives Customs Service.
An MoU was also signed between the National Centre for Good Governance, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances and Maldives Civil Service Commission on Training and Capacity Building Programme for Maldivian civil servants.
A technical agreement on sharing white shipping information between the Indian Navy and the Maldives National Defence Force was also signed.
Prime Minister Modi and President Solih held warm discussions, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
“Mutually beneficial partnership. Warm discussions marked the meeting between PM @narendramodi & President of Maldives @ibusolih. Focus on further deepening our special relationship by expanding cooperation across sectors,” he said on Twitter.
A coastal surveillance radar system and a composite training centre for the Maldives defence forces were jointly inaugurated by the two leaders.
After the talks, Prime Minister Modi said that the focus of the various projects that India is undertaking in the Maldives is to touch the lives of people.
He said India has agreed on the construction of a Friday Mosque in the southern part of the Maldives where an urban development centre is being built.
The two countries have agreed to start a ferry service between Kochi and the Maldives, he said.
Prime Minister Modi said that the launch of RuPay Card in the Maldives will give a boost to tourism in the island nation.
“There have been discussions over making the defense services stronger in Maldives.
India wants a strong relationship with the Maldives and believes that a strong and prosperous Maldives will be in the interest of the region,” PM Modi said.
He said that maritime and defence ties are a top priority and the radar system will boost maritime security.
India is committed to help the Maldives in every way possible, he added.