Agreements for assistance in several fields were exchanged and a composite training centre and coastal radar system gifted by India to the Maldives military were launched on Saturday during Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s maiden state visit.
Modi and President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih jointly inaugurated the training centre and radar system on Maafilaafushi island via a remote link during a ceremony at the president’s office.
Solih also presented Modi with the ‘Order of the Distinguished Rule of Izzudeen,’ the highest honour of the Maldivian state accorded to foreign dignitaries. It was conferred “in recognition of the many services he has performed to cement the longstanding, amicable ties between our two countries,” the president’s office said.
Connected by cricket!
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 8, 2019
Six Memoranda of Understanding and one technical agreement were signed:
- MoU for cooperation in hydrography
- MoU on cooperation in health
- MoU for the establishment of passenger and cargo services by sea
- MoU for cooperation in customs capacity building between the Maldives Customs Service and the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs of India
- MoU between Maldives Civil Service Commission and National Centre for Good Governance, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances on Training and Capacity Building Programme for Maldivian civil servants
- Technical agreement on sharing white shipping information between the Indian navy and the Maldives National Defence Force
According to the president’s office, the MoU on hydrography “will further strengthen the capability of the Maldivian government to map out our coastal waters and Exclusive Economic Zone, and better utilise the resources contained therein.”
The MoU on health sector cooperation entails “the exchange and training of medical professionals, cooperation in medical research and the regulation of medical products.” A further agreement is expected to be penned in the future for cooperation in cancer treatment.
First proposed in 2011, the cargo ferry service would operate between Cochin and Malé and Kulhudhuhfushi “or any other mutually agreed ports.” Aside from providing access to Indian markets, the passenger and cargo shipping service would “establish routes for easy and affordable passenger travel between Maldivian and Indian ports.”
The MoUs on building the capacity of the Maldives customs and modernising services would also facilitate “knowledge exchange on best international practice pertinent to customs; development of training and capacity building programs for customs officials, and will help promote a uniform understanding of customs related policies, procedures, and systems.”
Under the MoU signed with the Civil Service Commission, India would cover the costs of training 1,000 civil servants. The training and capacity building programmes on “public administration; e-governance and service delivery; public policy and implementation; best practices in fisheries and coastal areas; agro-based practices; and implementing the United Nation Development Programme’s Sustainable Development Goals.”
After the MoU exchange ceremony, both leaders presented a statement to the press in their native languages.
President Solih thanked the Indian government for their offer to carry out restoration of the Friday Mosque in Malé, noting the recent visit of senior scientists of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
He also thanked India for its offer to construct a cricket stadium in Hulhumalé and help develop the sport in the Maldives through professional coaching and the opportunity to compete in Indian tournaments.
The Maldives would back India’s candidature for permanent membership of an expanded and reformed UN Security Council, and for India’s candidature for a non-permanent seat for the year 2020-2021, he pledged.
In his remarks, PM Modi thanked President Solih for allotting land for a new chancery building in a diplomatic enclave to be developed in the capital’s suburb Hulhumalé.
Both leaders “reiterated their assurance of being mindful of each other’s concerns and aspirations for the stability of the region and not allowing their respective territories to be used for any activity inimical to the other,” according to a joint statement.