1. The President of the Republic of Maldives, His Excellency Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, is on an Official Visit to India at the invitation of the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, His Excellency Narendra Modi.
2. This is President Solih’s third visit to India since assuming office on 17 November 2018. President Solih is accompanied by a high-level official delegation comprising His Excellency Ibrahim Ameer, Minister of Finance, His Excellency Fayyaz Ismail, Minister of Economic Development, Her Excellency Aishath Mohamed Didi, Minister of Gender, Family and Social Services, and a business delegation.
3. During the visit, President Solih had restricted and delegation level talks with Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi. Prime Minister Modi also hosted an official lunch for President Solih and the accompanying delegation.
4.President Solih also met with President of the Republic of India, Her Excellency Droupadi Murmu, during the visit and congratulated President Murmu on assuming office as India’s 15th President. Minister of External Affairs of India, His Excellency Dr. S. Jaishankar called on President Solih. During the Mumbai leg of the visit, Governor of Maharashtra, His Excellency Bhagat Singh Koshyari will call on President Solih.
5. The Maldives-India bilateral partnership is underpinned by geographical proximity, historical, cultural ties and shared values. Prime Minister Modi underlined that the Maldives occupies a special place in the hearts of Indians and in India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy. President Solih reaffirmed his government’s "India-First Policy”. The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the rapid expansion of the bilateral partnership in recent years, which has benefited citizens of both countries. The leaders reiterated their commitment to further strengthen and deepen this mutually beneficial comprehensive partnership.
6. President Solih thanked Prime Minister Modi and the Government of India for standing by the Government and the people of the Maldives during the Covid-19 pandemic. The medical and financial assistance from India helped the Maldives overcome the health and economic fallouts of the pandemic. India was the first partner to gift Covid-19 vaccines to Maldives. Prime Minister Modi congratulated President Solih and the people of the Maldives for their resilience, the successful vaccination drive and the solid economic rebound post-pandemic.
7. President Solih and Prime Minister Modi agreed to further deepen institutional linkages for cooperation in the areas of defence and security, investment promotion, human resource development, infrastructure development including climate and energy.
Economic Cooperation and People-to-People Ties
8. Both leaders welcomed the growth in people-to-people ties through implementation of visa-free travel, better air connectivity, exchange programmes, and growing cultural and economic linkages. India has emerged as the top source for the Maldivian tourism market, contributing to economic resilience. The leaders acknowledged the role of the bilateral air travel bubble, created during the pandemic, in the expansion of tourism ties. The two leaders welcomed the ongoing work to operationalize the usage of Rupay Cards in Maldives and agreed to consider further measures to boost bilateral travel and tourism and economic inter-linkages. Both leaders also acknowledged the valuable contribution of Indian teachers, nurses, medical workers, doctors, workers, and professionals in the Maldives. They welcomed the recent launch of National Knowledge Network in Maldives and directed the officials to work towards expanding its reach within the country.
9. The two leaders welcomed the engagement among business leaders from both countries during the visit, noting that fisheries, infrastructure, renewable energy, tourism, health, and IT among others were key sectors for greater economic linkages between the two countries through cross-border investments and partnerships. Both leaders acknowledged India’s potential as a frontier market for Maldivian tuna products under the SAFTA. Overall, both leaders expressed satisfaction at the growth in bilateral trade since 2019. President Solih and Prime Minister Modi noted the operations of the direct cargo vessel service between India and Maldives since September 2020 and desired that the service become an enabler of increased bilateral trade.
10. President Solih and Prime Minister Modi reviewed the remarkable progress achieved in the development partnership domain despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other global economic challenges. Maldives-India development partnership has witnessed rapid growth in recent years and covers large infrastructure projects, community-level grant projects and capacity building programmes which are based purely on requirements of the Maldives, implemented through transparent processes and in a spirit of cooperation between the two Governments.
11. Both leaders participated in the virtual “pouring of the first concrete” ceremony of the USD 500 million Greater Male’ Connectivity Project being built under grant and concessional loan support from India. The two leaders directed the officials to ensure timely completion of this largest landmark infrastructure project in Maldives - that will enhance mobility between Male’, Villingili, Gulhifalhu and Thilafushi islands, cut down logistics cost and drive people-centric economic growth which will be a symbol of enduring friendship between the two countries.
12. Prime Minister Modi announced offer of a new Government of India Line of Credit of USD 100 million to finance infrastructure projects in Maldives. President Solih thanked Government of India for this offer and expressed confidence that this additional fund would enable implementation of several large infrastructure projects that have been under various stages of discussion.
13. Both leaders reviewed the progress achieved in the development of the 4,000 social housing units being built in Greater Male’ under Buyer’s Credit financing of Exim Bank of India. These housing units are in line with the Government of Maldives’ focus of providing affordable housing for its citizens.
14. The two leaders welcomed the approval of Exim Bank of India Buyer’s Credit funding of USD 119 million for construction of another 2000 social housing units in Greater Male’ and exchange of a Letter of Intent to this effect between Exim Bank of India and the Government of Maldives. President Solih expressed appreciation to the Government of India for the generous assistance for additional housing units.
15. The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the progress achieved in other Indian funded projects including the Addu Roads project, provision of water and sewerage facilities at 34 islands, and restoration of Hukuru Miskiy (Friday Mosque). The two leaders welcomed the approval of the revised DPR of the Gulhifalhu Port Project and directed officials to commence implementation at the earliest as it will provide world class port facility for Greater Male’ replacing the existing port and relocation of facilities from Male’ City. The two leaders also welcomed final approval of the Indian side for signing of the Hanimaadhoo Airport Development project EPC contract and expressed happiness that implementation would commence shortly. The two leaders noted with satisfaction the finalisation of the feasibility report of the Cancer Hospital building project in Laamu and its financial closure through the Government of India Line of Credit.
16. Both leaders welcomed the positive contribution to island communities from the 45 Community Development Projects, being implemented through grant assistance from India.
17. President Solih and Prime Minister Modi noted with satisfaction that capacity building and training had emerged as a key pillar of the bilateral partnership in the past few years. Alongside ITEC training scheme, hundreds of Maldivians undergo special customized training in India, facilitated by institutional linkages between civil services, customs services, parliaments, judiciaries, media, health and education institutes, and defence and security organisations. The two leaders welcomed the MoU signed between the Local Government Authority of Maldives and the National Institute for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj of India which would strengthen the capacities of local government institutions in the Maldives.
Defence and Security
18. The Maldives-India defence and security partnership is time-tested and is the leading example of regional cooperation in the areas of transnational crimes and disaster relief. This partnership is a force for stability in the Indian Ocean Region. Recognizing that the security of the Maldives and India are inter-linked, the two leaders reiterated their assurance to be mindful of each other’s concerns on the security and stability of the region; and to not allow their respective territories to be used for any activity inimical to the other.
19. The two leaders agreed on energizing cooperation in maritime safety and security, maritime domain awareness, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief through the implementation of ongoing projects and capacity building initiatives. Prime Minister Modi reaffirmed India’s commitment to strengthen cooperation in line with India’s Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) vision.
20. Both leaders expressed satisfaction on the speedy progress made in the pre-construction phase of the Coast Guard Harbour at SIFAVARU. This project would assist the Government of Maldives in enhancing the capability of Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) in exercising jurisdiction and undertaking maritime surveillance of its EEZ and atolls. Both leaders directed the officials to ensure timely completion of this project.
21. Prime Minister Modi announced supply of the second Landing Assault Craft (LCA) and a replacement ship for earlier provided CGS Huravee from Government of India for Maldives National Defence Force to Government of Maldives. Prime Minister Modi also announced gifting of 24 utility vehicles from Government of India to Maldives National Defence Force. President Solih thanked Prime Minister Modi for India’s continuing support for modernisation of MNDF infrastructure and equipment, through grant assistance and the USD 50 million Line of Credit facility for defense projects.
22. President Solih thanked Prime Minister Modi for the assistance in establishing the National College for Policing and Law Enforcement (NCPLE) at Addu City which was inaugurated in March 2022.
23. The two leaders welcomed the exchange of Buyers Credit Agreement for design and construction of 61 police infrastructures across Maldives that will contribute to improved access to policing and to ensure the safety and security of the communities in the islands.
24. Both leaders also welcomed the progress achieved in these areas within the framework of regional and multilateral initiatives. Prime Minister Modi congratulated President Solih for the successful hosting of 5th Meeting of Colombo Security Conclave in Male’ in March 2022 which witnessed membership expansion as well as addition of a new pillar – Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief – at Maldives’ initiative.
25. The two leaders recalled the success of the 6th Deputy National Security Advisor’s Meeting of the Member States of Colombo Security Conclave, held in Kochi last month, and expressed confidence that the 7th Deputy National Security Advisor’s Meeting to be hosted by the Maldives will lead to constructive outcomes.
26. The two leaders welcomed the exchange of MoUs on strengthening cooperation in the field of disaster management, and on cyber security.
27. The leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms and called for enhanced coordination between the security agencies of the two countries to thwart radicalisation, violent extremism, terrorism and narco-trafficking. While acknowledging progress since the First Meeting of the Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism held in April 2021, the two leaders directed the officials to further strengthen cooperation in various areas, including cyber- security.
Emerging Frontiers of Cooperation
28. Environment and Renewable Energy - The leaders recognized the growing challenges emanating from climate change and agreed to strengthen cooperation towards mitigation and adaptation bilaterally as well as in the framework of multilateral initiatives – International Solar Alliance and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. The development of drinking water and sanitation infrastructure on 34 islands under Government of India concessional Line of Credit is the largest climate adaptation project being undertaken in Maldives with international assistance. Prime Minister Modi lauded the ambitious target set by Maldives to become net zero by 2030 and assured full support. In this context, the two leaders called on their officials to strengthen cooperation in the area of renewable energy and grid inter-connectivity.
29. Sports and youth development- The two leaders acknowledged the expansion of sports ties, including through gifting of equipment and training of Maldivian athletes in India. They directed the officials to take forward the projects for development of sports infrastructure in the Maldives through the concessional USD 40 million Line of Credit facility for sports infrastructure development. They also noted the inclusion of several sports development projects among grant funded projects being implemented in the Maldives. Both leaders welcomed the growing exchanges between youth from both sides under the MoU on cooperation in sports and youth affairs signed in 2020.
Cooperation in Multilateral Forums
30. The leaders agreed on the need for urgent reforms of the UN bodies, particularly the Security Council. In this regard, Prime Minister Modi appreciated Maldives’ support for India’s candidature for permanent membership of an expanded and reformed UN Security Council. President Solih thanked India for support for the Maldives’ candidature for the Presidency of the seventy-sixth session of the UN General Assembly. Both leaders also agreed to continue working on multilateral issues of common concern, at the UN and other international fora.
31.The leaders witnessed exchange of MoUs/ Agreements in the following areas during the visit:
- Collaboration on potential fishing zone forecast capacity building
- Cooperation in the area of cyber security
- Capacity building of women development committees and local government authorities of Maldives
- Cooperation in disaster management
- USD 41 million Buyer’s Credit Agreement to construct police infrastructure
-Letter of Intent for Buyer’s Credit financing of 2,000 social housing units
32. President Solih thanked Prime Minister Modi for the warmth, cordiality and gracious hospitality extended to him and members of his delegation during their visit.
33. President Solih reiterated his invitation to the President of India to make a State Visit to the Maldives. President Solih also invited the Prime Minister of India to undertake a visit to the Maldives.
2 August 2022