Male: India and the Maldives have been able to develop deep and close cooperation at all levels including political, administrative, entrepreneurial and people-to-people ties apart from their strong development partnership, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said Sunday.
Muraleedharan, who is in the Maldives on a two-day official visit, said his trip has been “highly productive” and he was reassured that the bilateral relationship will continue to grow.
“I had very engaging and fruitful conversations today with Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid. We discussed topics ranging across the whole partnership spectrum. We were happy with the rapid all-round progress in our bilateral partnership and close coordination on regional and international issues,” the minister said.
He said the bilateral relationship has achieved huge progress in the last few years under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
“India and the Maldives have been able to develop a deep and close cooperation at all levels including political, administrative, entrepreneurial and people-to-people ties apart from our strong development partnership,” the minister said in his press statement.
He said India’s development cooperation portfolio in the Maldives has expanded significantly in recent years and underlined that India has become the largest source of tourism for Maldives and the top destination for the Maldivians travelling abroad.
He also noted that in the last few months, India has become the largest trading partner of Maldives and added that the two sides have worked very closely to deal with the challenges of the Covid pandemic.
“Our comprehensive development partnership covers grants, concessional credit, budgetary support, capacity building and training assistance. We are happy to see several projects taking off, getting delivered on the ground and benefiting people and the community,” he said.
He said that Water and Sanitation projects in 34 Islands are now nearing completion.
“Construction of 4000 housing units in Hulhumale is also progressing well with many towers expected to be finished and delivered in the coming months,” he added.
The Addu Development Project-Roads and Reclamation is a key infrastructure project required for Addu to establish itself as the southern regional hub of the Maldives, the minister said, adding that India is assisting the Maldives towards this goal.
“Our flagship project in Maldives is the $ 500 million Greater Male Connectivity Project, which will be a major catalyst for the Maldivian economy. We are committed to expediting its implementation,” he said.
On the connectivity side, the minister said the work on the Hanimaadhoo international airport redevelopment project is progressing rapidly.
“Our other big projects in various stages of implementation include the Gulhifalhu Port project, the expansion of facilities of Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company Limited, and the setting up of a cancer speciality hospital in Laamu atoll. I am also happy to note that the $ 40 million LoC projects for improving sports infrastructure is progressing well,” he said.
The minister said that India’s grant projects are unique of its kind bringing benefit to the local community. “We are already partnering on 45 such projects – 27 of these projects have already been completed,” he said, highlighting the signing of 10 more agreements for the implementation of the high-impact projects in 11 Atolls in Maldives.
He handed over a batch of Tuberculosis medicines to the Maldives and said he was confident that the medicine will contribute to the government’s plan to eliminate the disease from Maldives. He described health cooperation as an “important pillar” of the bilateral ties.
“As Prime Minister Modi said, the India-Maldives partnership is not only working in the interests of the citizens of both countries but is actually a source of peace, stability and prosperity for the entire region. It is our endeavour to take the relationship to even newer heights,” he added.
He also called on President Solih and exchanged views on strengthening bilateral cooperation. He conveyed the greetings of Prime Minister Modi.
“The time-tested and trustworthy partnership between India and the Maldives is poised to scale further new heights,” the minister said.