Male [Maldives], Mar 18 (ANI): India and Maldives on Monday signed one agreement and two Memorandums of Understanding (MoU), including collaboration in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy, in the presence of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid.
India and Maldives signed an agreement on the exemption from visa requirement for holders of diplomatic and official passports, while, the MoUs exchanged focused on Indian Grant Assistance for the implementation of High Impact Community Development Projects through local bodies in the island nation as well as collaboration in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Swaraj, who arrived in Male on Sunday for a two-day visit to the island nation at the invitation of Shahid, is accompanied by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and other senior officials.
During her visit, Swaraj also unveiled a plaque of the renovated Indira Gandhi Memorial (IGM) Hospital here.
India and Maldives on Sunday exchanged three agreements on visa facilitation for diplomatic and official passport holders, development cooperation, and renewable energy in the presence of Swaraj and her Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid.
During the joint ministerial meeting with Shahid, the leaders also discussed ways to enhance cooperation bilaterally on a variety of issues, including consular issues, capacity development, health cooperation, trade, investment, economic cooperation and enhancing people-to-people contact.
Swaraj on Monday called on Maldivian President Ibrahim Solih. The two leaders took stock of the progress made in bilateral relations since Solih's visit to India last year.
According to a statement released by India's Ministry of External Affairs, Foreign Minister Shahid, during the meeting, noted that India continues to play an important role in the socio-economic development of the Maldives.
Shahid, on behalf of his country, thanked the India government for its support towards the renovation of Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, which stands as an enduring symbol of friendship between the two countries.
The Maldives also requested Indian assistance for the construction of a cricket stadium, while, India, on the other hand, appreciated the decision of the Maldivian side to provide land in Hulhumale for building an Indian Embassy, the statement said.
Swaraj also announced India's decision to renew the quota for essential commodities, as requested by the Maldives, including river sand and stone aggregate, for a period of three years, starting from April 1, 2019.
Welcoming the increase in trade volume over the past few years, both Foreign Ministers agreed to improve connectivity as a means to promote the exchange of goods and services, culture, and people.
The Ministers also agreed on the need to boost private sector involvement, and agreed to hold the Maldives-India Business Forum in 2019, the statement added.
Both Foreign Ministers agreed on the importance of maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean Region, and to strengthen coordination in enhancing regional maritime security and to support efforts to combat terrorism, particularly cross-border terrorism, and crimes such as piracy, organised crime, narcotic drugs, and human trafficking, the statement said.
In addition, Maldives once again reiterated its support for India's candidature for permanent membership of an expanded and reformed UN Security Council and a non-permanent seat for the year 2020-21, the statement read.
Foreign Ministers further agreed on the need to strengthen the global response to climate change, through multilateral forums including the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement.
Swaraj appreciated the Maldives for its intention to submit the instrument of ratification for the Framework Agreement for Establishing the International Solar Alliance, the statement said.
On Monday, Swaraj also called on Speaker of the Parliament Qasim Ibrahim.
Swaraj's visit to the Maldives is aimed at strengthening the "close and friendly relations" between the two nations, after ties between New Delhi and Male came under strain during former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen's five-year rule, which saw him cosying up with China for various development projects, cracking down on dissent and imposing a state of emergency by jailing opposition leaders. (ANI)