Male, February 20: India’s time-tested relationship with the Maldives is poised to take a quantum jump, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Saturday as he held talks with his Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid and discussed the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation and handed over 100,000 additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the country.
The two ministers discussed COVID-19 recovery, various projects being undertaken under Indian assistance, and cooperation in multilateral platforms.
Jaishankar, who arrived here on the first leg of his two-nation tour that will also take him to Mauritius, handed over 100,000 additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the Foreign Minister and Health Minister Kerafa Naseem.
“Our time-tested relationship is posed today for a quantum jump, scaling new heights,” Jaishankar said.
He said Maldives enjoy a central position in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Neighbourhood First Policy.
“India’s first and largest COVID-19 vaccine support was given to the Maldives. It is the first country where India-made vaccines landed,” he said.
He said India has looked beyond post-COVID economic recovery and India’s air travel bubble with the Maldives contributed significantly in reviving the tourism sector.
“An extraordinarily deep partnership reaffirmed. Comprehensive talks with FM @abdulla_shahid. Deeply appreciate our close cooperation during Covid. Agreed to look beyond at post-pandemic economic recovery, Jaishankar tweeted after the talks.
He was received at Velana International Airport by his Maldivian counterpart Shahid, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed Khaleel, Foreign Secretary Abdul Gafoor Mohamed and Maldivian High Commissioner to India Hussain Niyaz, Maldivian media reported.
Jaishankar is visiting the Maldives at the invitation of Shahid. It is his second official visit to the Maldives, following his visit to attend the 5th Indian Ocean Conference in 2019.
According to the Maldivian Foreign Ministry, Jaishankar, during his visit, will inaugurate some projects undertaken with Indian grant assistance and witness the exchange of several agreements and MoUs between the two countries.
In the Maldives, Jaishankar will call on Presiden Solih and have substantive discussions with the ministers for defence, finance, economic development and planning and infrastructure, the MEA said in a statement.
Jaishankar will also call on Speaker Mohamed Nasheed and meet with other political leaders. (PTI)