India, Maldives ink six agreements

Maldives: Taking their bilateral ties to a new high, India and Maldives today inked six agreements, including a historic framework accord on development cooperation with a Standby Credit Facility of USD 100 million to help stabilise Maldivian fiscal position and another to jointly combat terrorism.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on his first state visit to Maldives, held discussions with President Mohammed Nasheed in the Presidential Palace and signed with him the Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development.

The agreement is a blue print for cooperation in areas such as trade and investment, food security, fisheries development, tourism, transportation, information technology, new and renewable energy, communications and enhancing connectivity by air and sea.

Singh is also the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Maldives in 8 years after his predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee`s trip. Total trade between the two countries stood at Rs 395 crore in 2009-10.

As part of a multi-pronged approach to deal with the security issues and problems on account of terror and piracy, India will support the construction of a National Police Academy for capacity building of Maldives.

After the signing ceremony, Singh told a joint press conference that the two leaders discussed all issues, including the future cooperation in the bilateral partnership as also the cooperation which was already on a high growth trajectory.

On his part, President Nasheed thanked the Prime Minister for the framework agreement of cooperation on a number of areas that will be beneficial to both the countries and go a long way in Indian assistance to Maldives` development and progress.

Recognising the fact that the two countries face the common challenges of extremism and religious fundamentalism, they also signed agreements on combating terrorism, drug trafficking, disaster management and coastal security and transfer of sentenced persons. The agreements were signed by Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and Maldivian Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mohammed Nasir

The pacts signed included one on renovation of the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, the main referral hospital in the country. Singh said work would be taken up on full swing and India expects to hand over the renovated facility by May 2013.