Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid has concluded his official visit to neighboring India.
FM Shahid was seen off at the Indhira Gandhi International Airport by the High Commissioner of Maldives to India, Ibrahim Shaheeb and Joint Secretary, IOR of the Ministry of External Affairs of India Puneet Agarwal.
His visit came upon the official invitation of his counterpart, the External Affairs Minister of India Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
Upon arrival at New Delhi’s Indhira Gandhi International Airport on July 10, FM Shahid was received by High Commissioner of Maldives to India Ibrahim Shaheeb and senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs of India.
Taking to Twitter upon his arrival, FM Shahid revealed that his visit was in keeping with the tradition of high-level exchanges between the two neighboring countries and that he looked forward to discussions with his India counterpart, on enhancing the partnership between the two brotherly countries.
The visit mirrored the enhancing of bilateral ties between the two countries with the signing of several Memorandums of Understanding (MoU)s that were exchanged in the field of socioeconomic cooperation.
As part of the visit, FM Shahid held official discussions with his Indian counterpart.
Extensive discussions were held at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, regarding all aspects of the relations between the neighboring countries, including ways to enhance the historic relationship.
Both FM Shahid and EAM Jaishankar expressed mutual commitment to continue working closely together bilaterally and in the international fora on priority areas of mutual interest.
The two ministers shed light on the successful economic cooperation as well as the progress of ongoing projects that are being implemented under the Indian grant assistance and line of credit schemes.
Further, views and visions on development cooperation, tourism cooperation, human resource development, multilateral engagements, and consular affairs between both countries were also exchanged during the official talks.
FM Shahid and EAM Jaishankar went on to emphasize the significance of exploring further avenues to deepen the partnership between the two brotherly nations.
During the meeting held on July 11, FM Shahid expressed gratitude to the Indian government for the continued support to facilitate and further develop economic, trade and investment ties between both countries, and for India’s commitment in the socioeconomic development of the Maldives.
Nine MoUs to implement socio-economic development projects in the Maldives under the High Impact Community Development Project scheme grant funding from the government of India, were signed during a ceremony held in New Delhi on July 11.
The MoUs exchanged between the two neighboring countries, were signed by High Commissioner of Maldives to India Ibrahim Shaheeb on behalf of the Maldivian government and High Commissioner of India to the Maldives Munu Mahawar on behalf of the Indian government.
The MoUs signed include:
- An MoU to develop a mental health unit at Ungoofaaru Hospital in Raa atoll
- An MoU to develop a volley court in Kanditheemu island of Shaviyani atoll
- An MoU to establish a “Geydhoshu Mas Plant” in Dhiggaru island of Meemu atoll
- An MoU to procure furniture and equipment for the Foakaidhoo Community Center in Shaviyani atoll
- An MoU to digitalize the school in Vilufushi island of Thaa atoll
- An MoU to upgrade the hospital in Nilandhoo island of Faafu atoll
- An MoU to upgrade the Nilandhoo School computer lab
- An MoU to preserve the roof and develop the palace surroundings in Utheem Palace
- An MoU to install streetlights in Kondey island of Gaaf Alif atoll.
Senior officials from the Maldives’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and India’s Ministry of External Affairs joined the ceremony.
FM Shahid also delivered the 43rd Sapru House Lecture at the Indian Council of World Affairs in New Delhi, during the visit. The 43rd Sapru House Lecture was delivered at the Indian Council of World Affairs on the topic “The Power of Small: The Maldives Story”.
Shedding light on how Maldives as a small island state steered through the perils of international diplomacy through adapting and adjusting by means of successful strategies, FM Shahid detailed the pressing challenges faced by small island states like the Maldives in having the chance to serve in significant roles in the multilateral arena.
Further, he shed light on the sentiment that surfaced when Maldives applied for membership of the United Nations (UN) with questions raised about its ability to undertake the responsibilities of a productive member of the international community and its capacity to engage constructively.
Stressing that the principles preserved in the UN Charter offered small states an equal footing in multilateralism, the Maldivian foreign minister highlighted how the Maldives began implementing an independent foreign policy immediately after signing independence in 1965 and how the Maldives adopted key strategies to adapt to the circumstances.
He also shed light on the three approaches Maldives adopted, including the “principled”, “pragmatic” and the “prioritization” approaches which confirmed how a small state can defend itself and their interests, and defend others in front of bigger states in global arena.
The 43rd Sapru House Lecture was pioneered and moderated by Director General of the Indian Council of World Affairs Ambassador Vijay Thakur Singh.
Established in 1943, the Indian Council for World Affairs is an Indian think tank.
Meeting with Non-Resident High Commissioners and Ambassadors accredited to the Maldives based in New Delhi, FM Shahid noted that envoys have a heavy responsibility to strengthen and sustain relations between countries.
As such, the interactions took place during a reception hosted at Taj Palace, New Delhi by the High Commissioner of Maldives to India Ibrahim Shaheeb, in honor of FM Shahid.
Highlighting that countries represented at the reception were valuable bilateral and multilateral partners to the Maldives, FM Shahid stated that the bilateral relationship between countries is the cornerstone of all international relations.
FM Shahid stated that Envoys have a heavy responsibility to strengthen and sustain the relationship as accredited Ambassadors and High Commissioners.
Further, he noted that people-to-people connections are vital to bridge the gap and nurture closer cooperation between the countries, FM Shahid also shed light on the upcoming candidatures of Maldives for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
As such, FM Shahid stated that Maldives relies on the power of diplomacy and international cooperation based on the three pillars of its foreign policy, including the promotion and protection of human rights, consolidating democracy and championing climate diplomacy.
The Maldivian foreign minister added that the archipelago nation intends to expressively contribute towards maintaining international peace and security at the Security Council.
He stated that Maldives aims to urge enhanced coordination and coherence across the UN system to assist all countries achieve their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and all targets at the ECOSOC.
High Commissioners and Ambassadors from Algeria, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eritrea, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Kenya, Laos, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Oman, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Guinea, Republic of Sudan, Rwanda, Senegal Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Uganda, Ukraine and Zimbabwe attended the reception.
The Maldivian foreign minister also visited the Chancery building of the High Commission of the Republic of Maldives in New Delhi, on Wednesday.
FM Shahid met with the staff at the mission and acknowledged their hard work and dedication.
The Maldivian minister expressed appreciation for the contribution by the mission’s staff towards strengthening the bilateral partnership between Maldives and India.
He went on to tour the premises.
Bilateral Secretary Dr. Hala Hameed, Joint Secretary Abdul Waris Saeed and senior officials at the foreign ministry are accompanying the foreign minister during the trip.