Neighbourhood First: Foreign Minister S Jaishankar Leaves For Visiting Neighbours In IOR
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Neighbourhood First: Foreign Minister S Jaishankar Leaves For Visiting Neighbours In IOR

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According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) the minister will be in Maldives from Feb 20-21 and then will go to Mauritius from Feb 22-23

This weekend External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has begun his four day visit to India’s two most important maritime neighbours within the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) – Maldives & Mauritius. These two countries hold a very special place in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of `SAGAR’.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) the minister will be in Maldives from Feb 20-21 and then will go to Mauritius from Feb 22-23.

The Focus of The Visit

It is going to lend further momentum to the cooperation amongst the countries as well as cooperation in people-to-people ties.

According to the MEA, besides calling on President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, external affairs Minister Dr Jaishankar will be having discussions with the ministers for foreign affairs, defence, finance, economic development and planning and infrastructure.

India & The Maldives

Both the countries have been engaging on a regular basis even during the global pandemic of COVID-19. Post-COVID 19, the Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla had visited the Maldives in November 2020. Also there has been a virtual meeting between the foreign ministers in August 2020 in which several key projects and initiatives were announced.

There has been a telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Modi and President Solih in April 2020 when the world was in a lockdown state.

In line with India’s Neighbourhood First Policy, India’s rapid and comprehensive assistance to the Maldives since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has further reinforced its credentials of being the first responder.

In fact, it was the first country to receive 100,000 COVID-19 Vaccine doses as a gift earlier this year.

Operation Sanjeevni & Mission SAGAR

During the pandemic India had extended all help and humanitarian assistance in 2020. Donation of 5.5 tons of essential medicines, airlifting of 6.2 tons of medicines by the IAF from various India cities through Operation Sanjeevani.

India also supplied around 580 tons of food aid under Mission SAGAR by INS Kesari and had deployed Rapid Response Medical Team to assist in COVID-19 preventive methods.

Extending A Helping Hand

To revive the Maldivian economy, several economic and financial initiatives were undertaken at the peak of the pandemic. India provided a budgetary cushion to its dwindling revenues primarily driven by tourism by extending a soft loan of USD 250 million.

Implementation of Greater Male Connectivity Project

In the largest civilian infrastructure project in Maldives – which is connecting Male with three neighbouring islands, India has extended its support by construction of a bridge-and-causeway link spanning 6.7 km. This has been possible through a financial package consisting of a grant of USD 100 million and a new Line of Credit of USD 400 million. The tendering process is going on.

Creation of An Air Travel Bubble

For helping in the movement of people from both sides for not only tourism, or medical emergencies but also for jobs. In fact as reported earlier this island became the first country with which an Air Bubble was operationalized.

Direct Cargo Ferry

So far six voyages have taken place. This was announced by PM Modi to help in enhancing sea connectivity between the two countries. Also, to reduce logistics cost for the bilateral trade between the two and to ensure supplies.

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