India, Maldives sign 4 pacts including USD 100 million grant for connectivity projects

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India, Maldives sign 4 pacts including USD 100 million grant for connectivity projects
India, Maldives sign 4 pacts including USD 100 million grant for connectivity projects

New Delhi : India and Maldives on Monday signed four agreements, including USD 100 million grant for a connectivity project, as visiting foreign secretary Harsh Shringla and the Maldivian leadership discussed ways to boost economic recovery amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Shringla is on two-day visit to Indian Ocean archipelago as a part of India's attempt to keep united with the neighbouring nations. The Maldives is the sixth country he has visited in the aftermath of pandemic-related travel restrictions, the others being Bangladesh, Myanmar, France, Germany and the UK.

One of four memorandums of understanding (MoUs) signed by the two sides was for the grant of $100 million by India for the $500-million Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP) that will link capital Male with three islands. India will also provide a $400-million line of credit for the project, the largest such infrastructure venture undertaken in the Maldives.

In other three MoUs, India agreed to set up soil and plant testing laboratories, establishing a drug detox facility, and cooperation in sports and youth affairs.

“We deeply appreciate the government of President [Ibrahim] Solih for its ‘India First’ foreign policy. This is reciprocated in full measure by our ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy in which the Maldives enjoys a very special and central place,” Shringla said during a press conference.

Talks between Shringla and his Maldivian counterpart Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed focused on economic recovery. They emphasised “resilience efforts to curb the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, including boosting tourism, accelerating the implementation of the ongoing development cooperation projects across the Maldives, and the means of elevating connectivity and bilateral trade”, according to a statement from the Maldives’ foreign ministry.