Reduced petrol imports discussed as Indian minister concludes visit

Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid has informed the Maldivian Government of its intention to continue supplying essential goods, with plans to supply petroleum products “on favourable terms”.

A joint statement released at the conclusion of Khurshid’s visit revealed an agreement had been reached  “in principle” with Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd to export diesel, petrol, and aviation fuels to the Maldives.

Mangalore Petroleum is a subsidiary of the India’s state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.

“[The] Indian side informed the Maldivian side of its agreement to continue supplying essential goods to Maldives,” read the statement detailing bilateral talks held this week.

Local media has also reported that Khurshid pledged US$10 million for the renovation of Indira Ghandi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).

As well as holding talks with the government, the minister of external affairs’ visit included his participation in the the 35th Inter-Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers.

Bilateral talks were held on Thursday (Febraury 20) between Khurshid and the Maldives Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon.

“The two sides reiterated their commitment to work together to promote democracy, development and mutual respect of each other’s sovereignty and peaceful co-existence and to contribute to peace, prosperity and security in the Indian Ocean region and South Asia.”

After expressing its satisfaction with the success of President Abdulla Yameen’s state visit to India last month, the Maldivian side also thanked India for its resumption of stone aggregate exports and the easing of visa restrictions for travel to India.

Bilateral ties appeared to have reached a nadir in late 2012 following the premature termination of a US$500 million deal to redevelop Malé’s international airport with Indian infrastructure company GMR.

The government’s decision to void the development contract was soon followed by increased visa restrictions and ending of favourable terms for the import of certain construction materials from India.

In early 2013, the Indian High Commission distributed a list of consular issues of concern to local media mainly concerning the mistreatment of Indian expatriate workers.

The list’s release was followed by the Indian High Commission issuing a statement in early February slamming local media in the Maldives for “misrepresentation and twisting of issues”.

“The two sides recalled their commitment to address all issues related to welfare of each other nationals, including speedy provision of consular services, on a priority basis,” read Thursday’s statement on the bilateral dicsussions.

Following President Yameen’s visit to India – his first official abroad since gaining office – senior government figures described Indo-Maldivian ties as being “as strong as they were during Gayoom’s time in power”.

Khurshid’s trip this week also included the gifting of naval landing craft and the laying of a foundation stone for a new Ministry of Defence building.

The visit also saw the official handing over of the new India-Maldives Friendship Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Studies which India has constructed at a cost of US$11million.

The facility, will provide state-of-the-art infrastructure and equipment for training Maldivians in tourism and hospitality sector. The project also envisages India’s continued engagement through deputation of experts, and exchange of faculty from reputed hotel management institutes of India.

Heveeru reported that Khurshid had pledged funds to renovate Indian-built IGMH during the the tourism faculty’s opening ceremony.

“Indira Gandhi Hospital built in the Maldives by India in 1996 is the most significant symbol of the two countries relationship. It is an important step taken in the development of the Maldivian health sector. India is ready to further improve this national asset,” he said.


Indian external affairs minister arrives in Maldives

Indian Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid has arrived for a three day visit to the Maldives after being delayed due to domestic commitments.

During his visit, Khurshid will attend the SAARC Council of Ministers meeting on Bandos Island Resort. As well as calling on President Abdulla Yameen, the minister will hand over landing craft to the MNDF, and will take part in a ceremony handing over the India-Maldives Friendship Faculty for Hospitality and Tourism Studies to the Maldivian government.

Khurshid will also lay the foundation stone of a new building to be used by the Ministry of Defence and the Coast Guard.


Indian external affairs minister postpones Maldives visit

The visit External Affair’s Minister Salman Khurshid to the Maldives has been postponed, with Indian media reporting that that the minister’s presence was required in parliament for the passage of the contentious Telangana bill.

The bill, which divides the state of Andhra Pradesh – creating Telangana, the country’s 29th state – was passed yesterday amidst fractious scenes in the Lok Sabha.

Khurshid’s visit to the Maldives was due to begin today (February 19), with the trip said to include that handing over of naval craft and a new tourism training facility to the Maldivian Government. These events have now been delayed.

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh is reported to have already travelled to the Maldives to participate in tomorrow’s SAARC foreign ministers’ meeting.