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Monday, Dec 16, 2019

India hands over patrol vessel to Maldives

india Updated: Dec 05, 2019 01:22 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar

New Delhi India on Wednesday handed over a patrol vessel to the Maldives as part of measures to enhance the Indian Ocean archipelago’s maritime security even as the leaders of the two countries launched four development projects.

During a video conference with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted India’s commitment to the socioeconomic development of the Maldives in line with the priorities of its people and government.

Solih conveyed his appreciation for India’s support for the development and security of the Maldives and expressed his “commitment to deepen cooperation and partnership with India,” the external affairs ministry said. Both leaders agreed to enhance cooperation for the peace, prosperity and mutual security of India, the Maldives and the wider Indian Ocean region, it added.

The initiatives, which were formally announced during the past one year, were launched during the video conference.

India gifted the indigenously made patrol vessel CGS Kaamiyaabu to the Maldives National Defence Coast Guard. The vessel will be manned by eight Maldives personnel trained in India and help the archipelago enhance its maritime security, foster its blue economy and safeguard its tourism industry.

The two sides exchanged MoUs for three grant projects to set up neighbourhood fish processing plants in the Maldives’ southernmost atoll of Addu to support the livelihood of island communities. These high impact community development projects (HICDPs) will be implemented under an agreement signed during a visit to Maldives earlier this year by the former external affairs minister, the late Sushma Swaraj.

The two sides also exchanged an MoU between the National Payments Corporation of India and the Bank of Maldives to launch the RuPay Card in the Maldives. Indian tourist arrivals to the Maldives doubled this year, and India has risen from the 5th to the 2nd position in the tourism market.

The launch of the Global RuPay Card in the Maldives will pave the way for higher tourist arrivals from India and bolster people-to-people contacts.

The two countries also dedicated 2,500 LED streetlights gifted by India that were recently installed in Male city as part of collaboration in the field of energy efficiency. The streetlights save 80% energy and will result in cost savings of about 8.35 lakh rufiyah per year for Male.

During the video conference, Modi said the convergence of India’s “Neighbourhood First” and the Maldives’ “India First” policies have strengthened bilateral cooperation in all sectors.

In June, Modi had made the Maldives the destination for the first foreign visit of his second term, reflecting the importance India attaches to its “Neighbourhood First” policy. The visit also signalled India’s commitment to stronger ties with the archipelago. Solih made a state visit to India last December.

The Maldives is looking to India to help bolster its economy as it grapples with debt from a Chinese building spree undertaken during former president Abdulla Yameen’s reign. During Solih’s visit last year, India announced financial aid of $1.4 billion as budget support, currency support and a line of credit.