Foreign dignitaries arrive as Addu prepares for largest event in atoll’s history

Foreign dignitaries and heads of state from around the region have begun arriving in the Maldives for the 17th Summit of the South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

The main Summit will run over November 10-11, however Minivan News understands that most of the talks between leaders will take place in the preceding days, together with the key decisions.

Leaders of all SAARC countries – including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan – have confirmed their attendance, according to the Maldives’ Foreign Ministry, while President Nasheed has already departed to oversee the remaining preparations.

In addition, ministers from Australia, Japan and China will join the Summit as observers. The Maldives’ former envoy for South Asia, Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed is serving as SAARC’s Secretary-General.

Media coverage of the event across the region has sharply increased with the departure of national leaders from their home countries.

One particularly anticipated event is the meeting between Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh, with Pakistan’s Business Recorder reporting that the meeting “on the sidelines” has been finalised for the 11th by the Foreign Office of Pakistan and India’s External Affairs Ministry.

According to the Recorder, the pair are due to discuss resuming dialogue between the two countries, as well as trade concessions. The two leaders also met earlier this year in Mohali on the eve of Pakistan-India cricket World Cup semi-final.

The Hindu reported India’s Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai as stating that topics of discussion between the two leaders would concern “the quick return of the military helicopter that had strayed into Pakistani territory, the in-principle decision by Pakistan to give most favoured nation (MFN) status to India and the visit of a Pakistani Judicial Commission to Mumbai.”

Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, is meanwhile due to depart Dhaka on the 9th, arriving at 3:30pm on the Wednesday, reports the Bangladeshi media.

Sheikh Hasina is due to have a bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh at Dr Ali’s Restaurant on the Shangri-La Villingili Resort, reports Bangladesh’s Daily Star newspaper, and will later attend a state banquet on Hulhumeedhoo.

Bangladeshi officials outlined key topics at the Summit as revolving around poverty alleviation, economic cooperation, the SAARC Development Fund, food security, connectivity, energy and climate change, with four regional agreements: Rapid Response to Natural Disasters, Seed Bank, Multilateral Recognition of Conformity Assessment and Implementation of Regional Standards as likely to be signed during the event.

Security at the event will be tight, with all traffic in the atoll restricted to military-run vessels. Joint Inter Agency Taskforce Commander Hassan Ziyad has observed that many of the leaders attending are “considered high risk even in their own countries,” and that respective domestic security threats are being taken into account by SAARC security forces.

All attending countries are providing security measures. Indian surveillance aircraft and navy vessels are patrolling the areas around Addu City and Fuvahmulah, while Sri Lanka has deployed six teams of sniffer dogs.

In India, the Hindu has meanwhile reported that a parallel “People’s SAARC” would be held in Thiruvananthapuram, in which political leaders would share the podium with “historians, writers, human rights activists and representatives of people’s movements”, during a two-day meeting of social action groups beginning on November 8.

“It will also focus on trade and livelihood issues, women’s role in people’s movements, de-militarisation and de-nuclearisation, natural resources and people’s movements and rebuilding the labour movement in the region. Other major concerns and topics to be discussed include exclusion, discrimination, oppression and tolerance, syncretism and secularism,” the Hindu reported.

Organisers of the parallel summit were reported as stating that “SAARC has comprehensively failed to take up issues confronted by the people of this region, which is home to the largest number of the world’s working poor.”

The Maldivian government has touted the SAARC as revitalising the southern atoll, highlighting its potential for development and putting it forward as a flagship for its ambitions to decentralise the country and take the pressure off Male’ – the most densely populated 2.2 square kilometres in the world.

Addu was granted the status of city in the lead up to the local council elections earlier this year, a move which met with heated disagreement from political opposition groups. The new city voted overwhelmingly for the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), with the party winning all council seats in both Male’ and Addu.

The MDP claimed victory after winning the major population centres, while opposition claimed victory in overall numbers of councillors elected, with strong support across many of the country’s less populated islands.

Addu’s new council meanwhile plans to use the Rf 115 million (US$7.4 million) convention centre, a two-storey building of glass, wood and marble with a capacity of 3000 today unveiled as the ‘Equatorial Convention Centre’ with the main convention hall dudded ‘Bodu Kiba’, to transform the atoll from a quiet place to a hub of business and tourism.

“We have some representatives talking to businesses in Singapore and Malaysia about hosting events here,” Sodiq told Minivan News.

“We will be soliciting bids to find the right event manager to look after the convention center as well. I think there are people interested in what Addu has to offer, and I’m sure we can get a market for it.”

This evening almost 1000 students are expected to turn out to march on the streets of Addu to mark the Eid al-Adha holidays, while bashi’, futsal and beach volley tournaments are due to take place, reports Haveeru.

Entertainment, music and cultural activities will take place through the week.

Minivan News reporters will be stationed in Addu reporting on the SAARC Summit November 7-12. 150 foreign reporters from around the region are expected to attend the event.


10 thoughts on “Foreign dignitaries arrive as Addu prepares for largest event in atoll’s history”

  1. According to the 7th edition of Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, page 1512, the spelling of the word 'story', as used in this article, is correct in American English but not in British English.

  2. JJ, perhaps you are not away of the fact that Pakistan has already returned the Indian helicoper to them. The helicopter entered Pakistani territory and hence was ordered to touch down immediately, by the Pakistani Airforce. Interrogation was done as to how they entered the pakistani territory and it revealed it was a technical error and entered by mistake.The men and the helicopter were returned to India just after three days this has happened. This is a story of more than 3 weeks old and I am surprised you are not up to date with its knowledge. You have said in your article that india will talk with pakistan in this SAARC oppotunity to release the helicopter. Its a shame MN pays salary to reporters like you who does crap job. Haveeru is doing a great job covering this SAARC summit. They have their experience in Addu, lots of photos and video regarding this summit. You guys suck in covering this SAARC summit, which is one of a many important thing that can happen to Maldives

  3. Thank God, Minivan News has come out from hibernation.

    I've been waiting to read your reports as the ones on Haveeru online and Sunfm are like someone's facebook page. They are too busy celebrating anything that goes wrong that they cannot concentrate on the talks. For example about Secretariat budget all Hamdhoon had to report was that the meeting didn't end on time. Sun talked about someone putting tar on Fuahmulaku airport. Such crap

    So far this is (on MInivan News) the only report about the talks. Thank you and well done. Hope you will continue reporting real stuff.

  4. agree with ziyan.
    minivan news is good at one thing and that is to spread anti-religion hate. other than that they are a big fat zero.

  5. Down with Minivan.

    I call for an end to obviously biased reporting.

    I demand better whitewashing efforts by the MDP government. Even Reeko Moosa could do a better job.

  6. However I congratulate the people of Addu and do not wish to bring them down in what may be seen as a moment of glory for them.

    Also, if Nasheed wishes to buy your affections, I advise the people of Addu to use his dependence on your vote to sustain his presidency in order to make him direct investment in health, education and the creation of jobs for your region.

    I agree that he is one of the worst administrators in history, however, some benefits might come from his remaining days in the government. I am sure no government would reverse whatever investments he makes in your region.

    If one calculates the numbers, it is no secret that the combined numbers of Addu and Fuvahmulah would certainly help to sway the vote, yet things are a bit of a gamble as they stand. For the betterment of the Maldives here's hoping that Nasheed is not allowed to overstay his welcome at the helm of this country.

  7. and Haveeru newspaper are presenting partisans news. Reporters from have no educational background. What they report are always their boss opinions and there is no journalism in their reporting.
    Few hours’ back reported that they are banners in Ibrahim Nasir International Airport repressing Christianity “Jesus Christ” I believe this is not news and who cares about Jesus or Buddha!
    The reports may have zero tolerance to other faiths and creeds; but they do not understand that what they dislike have the real world power and that what they represent are the most world’s backward communities.

  8. @hassan ahmed what u r trying to say is ISLAM and Muslims and the most worlds backword, and other religions, and people like u who dont believe in god and hereafter are the real world power ???

    if that so please remember,, at the end all evil will fail.... for everything there is an end..

  9. Comon tsk tsk guyz.. plz here no politics. we know its very dirty!!

    Whtever anni is done, maumoon wasn't able or come even closer. he just build his own palace and buy different estates in various destination for him n his family to stay after when he lose his power in government. he didnt do anything good for the nation.

    Here Mohamed Nasheed atleast tried to make some difference to develop maldives. By making one by one island or atoll developed, then its good. Now we not only considering for Kaafu Atoll. Anni government is making all the atolls n island much more better than maumoon did for 30 YEARS (point to be noted) thank u 🙂


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