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Joint Press Statement on the 6th Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) between India and Maldives

December 13, 2019

External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid co-chaired the 6th Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) between India and Maldives on December 13, 2019 in New Delhi. The two Ministers reviewed progress achieved in implementing the vast and ambitious agenda of bilateral cooperation agreed between the two countries.

2. The discussions at the JCM were held in a friendly atmosphere reflective of the close and neighbourly ties between India and Maldives. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih have met on four occasions in the past year illustrating the highest importance both India and Maldives attach to the bilateral relationship. Both sides noted that India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and Maldives’ ‘India First’ policy were working in tandem to further strengthen a dynamic, multifaceted and mutually beneficial partnership that rests on the foundation of mutual trust, understanding and sensitivity to each other’s concerns.

3. Today, the India-Maldives partnership encompasses cooperation in diverse sectors including health, education, human resource development, infrastructure development, arts & culture, tourism, information and communication technology, energy, agriculture, fisheries, finance, as well as security and defence. The past year has seen the energetic implementation of numerous agreements signed between the two sides.

4. Ongoing cooperation in our security and defence partnership was reviewed. India-Maldives defence cooperation includes key infrastructure projects such as construction of the Composite Training Centre (CTC) for the MNDF, and Ministry of Defence Building, and the setting up of the Coastal Surveillance Radar System (CSRS), as well as training programmes for MNDF officials in India, joint exercises, medical camps, etc. The Maldivian side acknowledged the usefulness of CGS Kaamiyaab gifted by the Government of India for the enhancement of its maritime security. Both Ministers emphasized the nurturing of a strong bilateral partnership in the maritime domain given the shared interests and common challenges in the Indian Ocean Region. Both sides agreed that Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism, Countering Violent Extremism and De-radicalisation will meet at an early date to strengthen cooperation required to combat the common threats arising from terrorism, radicalism and drug trafficking in the region. Both sides also reviewed with satisfaction the ongoing construction of police training facility in Addu city and capacity building in various fields including forensics for police personnel from Maldives in India.

5. The JCM endorsed the enhancement of trade, investment and economic cooperation including through the fostering of business linkages between India and Maldives. Recent private-sector exchanges have paved the way for further interaction between businesspersons from both sides. The strong increase in tourist arrivals from both sides in 2019 and the adoption of RuPay mechanism by Maldives bode well for stronger people-to-people contacts between the two countries. Cooperation in renewable energy, agriculture, fisheries and the blue economy were identified as emerging and crucial sectors of the bilateral partnership. Both sides noted with satisfaction the implementation of MoUs on Hydrography and White Shipping. The two sides also agreed to take forward cooperation in themes under blue economy including meteorology through institutional linkages and joint research.

6. The past one year has seen significant expansion in the scope of the bilateral development partnership. Both sides acknowledged the progress achieved in implementing the USD 1.4 billion economic package announced by India in December 2018 and noted with satisfaction the forward movement in the implementation of critical infrastructure projects under the USD 800 million Line of Credit. The USD 5.6 million High Impact Community Development Projects (HICDPs) and the USD 6.9 million grant assistance projects, which have been launched, have the potential to transform the livelihoods of communities in Maldives. It was agreed that all these projects will be closely monitored to achieve quick implementation through transparent processes.

7. JCM recognized the need to improve connectivity for strengthening people-to-people contacts. A strong focus was laid on strengthening ties in the ICT sector. Both sides agreed to work towards an early extension of the National Knowledge Network (NKN) to Maldives to strengthen academic, research and commercial links between the two countries.

8. The health sector continues to be a key pillar of the India-Maldives bilateral partnership. The two sides agreed to expedite work on the construction of a state-of-the art Cancer hospital in Hulhumale. The Maldivian side acknowledged the important role played by Indian nurses in its health sector, and means to streamline the recruitment of nurses from India were discussed. The Indian side also assured of its continued support to meet the requirements for trained personnel at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH). Both Ministers acknowledged the exemplary service provided by the helicopters of the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard in medical evacuations saving over 240 lives so far.

9. JCM recognized Youth as a core focus and agreed to work towards signing an MoU on Youth and Community Empowerment and implement youth exchanges between the two countries as a priority. Noting with appreciation the training programmes being conducted by BCCI for development of cricket in Maldives, the JCM reviewed the progress in the development of the cricket stadium in Hulhumale.

10. Capacity building and training remains an important dimension of the India-Maldives partnership. In the past year, capacity building has expanded to include training for Maldivian officials from the civil service, customs, parliament etc. along with an increase in training slots offered to Maldives in various streams under the ITEC programme. The need to expand capacity building to newer areas including skill development and vocational training was also emphasised during the discussions. Both sides agreed to widen institutional linkages in the education sector.

11. India and Maldives share deep and strong ties of culture and it was agreed to intensify cultural cooperation between the two sides. The restoration of Hukuru Miskiiy / Friday Mosque was identified as a priority and the JCM welcomed the fact that an Indian technical team is already in Male for its conservation. Discussions also centered on the organizing of the Festival of India in Maldives in 2020.

12. Consular matters and community issues were also reviewed. Visa facilitation agreements signed in the past year have played a key role in facilitating tourism arrivals and greater people-to-people contacts between the two sides.

13. The JCM welcomed the exchange of Instrument of Ratification of Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and signing of the MoUs between the Financial Intelligence Units of India and Maldives, and between the Election Commission of India and the Elections Commission of Maldives.

14. The Maldives side expressed its appreciation to the Indian side for hospitality and thoughtful arrangements. It was decided that the next India-Maldives JCM will be held in Maldives in 2021.

New Delhi
December 13, 2019
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