Amid China's overtures, Manmohan to court Maldives
India is set
to seal an all embracing agreement and a counter-terror pact with
the Maldives when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets President
Mohammed Nasheed in Male Friday. Amid China's attempt to increase
Male (Maldives): Amid
China's foray in this Indian Ocean island nation, India Saturday
inked an umbrella agreement with the Maldives to intensify
cooperation in diverse areas, including trade and
counter-terrorism, and unveiled a fresh $100 million line of
credit for the picture-pretty atoll nation.
The two sides signed six pacts, including two on combating
terrorism and transfer of sentenced persons.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held wide-ranging talks with
Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed for around half-an-hour in the
seafront presidential office and discussed issues ranging from
trade and development to combating terror and climate change.
After the talks, the two leaders inked a historic Framework
Agreement on Cooperation for Development which promises to open
"new frontiers of cooperation".
It is similar in scope to an umbrella agreement that India had
signed with Bangladesh nearly two years ago that transformed
relations between the two neighbours.
This agreement puts in place a template for cooperation in a wide
range of areas such as trade and investment, food security,
fisheries development, tourism, transportation, information
technology, new and renewable energy and connectivity, Manmohan
Singh said at a joint press conference with Nahseed.
"It's a very wide agreement. It will go a long way in Indian
assistance to Maldives' development," said Nasheed while thanking
India for its support.
Underlining "high growth trajectory" in bilateral ties, the Indian
prime minister also announced a fresh line of credit of $100
million that will enable it to stabilise its financial situation
and import essential commodities.
This is in addition to $40 million that India had pledged a year
ago for the construction of 500 houses in the atoll island.
With Islamist fundamentalism trying to spread its tentacles in the
Maldives and piracy becoming an urgent threat, the two leaders
spent some time on focusing on ensuring security in the Indian
Against this backdrop, the two sides decided to imbue their
security cooperation by signing a pact for combating terrorism,
drug trafficking and coastal security.
Manmohan Singh also announced India's decision to renovate the
200-bed Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital that has emerged as the
main referral hospital in the island nation.
Other key decisions that emerged from the meeting included India
offering to develop National Police Academy and fast-tracking the
proposal for a passenger-cum-cargo ferry service between Cochin
and Male at the earliest.
They also decided to look at the possibility of developing a port
north of Male.
India also offered to look at an ambitious package for development
of the Maldivian economy, including in the areas of banking,
financial institutions and capacity building.
Put together, this spate of decisions promises to impart a fresh
momentum to the strategically located island nation in which China
is trying to make inroads.
India has taken note of the visit of Wu Bangguo, chairman of the
Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) of
China, to the Maldives in May, but has rejected any rivalry with
The prime minister turned on his charm in his 15-minute address to
People's Majlis, the first foreign head of state or government to
address the Maldivian parliament.
"India will be at your side in your transition to a fully
functioning democracy," Manmohan Singh told assembled legislators
in the People's Majlis on the last day of his four-day visit to
the country where he attended the SAARC summit in Addu and headed
to Male for bilateral talks with the Maldives president.
Lauding Maldives for its democratic transformation, Manmohan
Singh, who is visiting the Indian Ocean atoll nation of coral-blue
1,190 islands for the first time, said he was "overwhelmed by the
breathtaking beauty and serenity of this nation of islands".
Underlining time-tested ties, he said India will always stand with
Maldives in its efforts for development and national renewal.
"You have shown how even a small nation can stand up and be
counted in the affairs of the world," he added.
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