India and Maldives today signed a 'framework agreement on cooperation for development', putting in place a template for cooperation in a number of areas such as trade and investment, food security, fisheries development, tourism, transportation, information technology, new and renewable energy, communications, and connectivity.
The agreement recognises the role the two countries can play in the Indian Ocean region.
India also agreed to extend a $100 million standby credit facility to the Maldives to help stabilise its fiscal position. Besides, India is considering a comprehensive package to help develop the Maldivian economy, including in the areas of banking and financial infrastructure and capacity building.
India has agreed to undertake extensive renovation of the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Male and the project to construct a centre of hospitality and tourism studies in Male is also in full swing. These projects are expected to be ready by 2013. To help Maldives build capacity, India will also soon start work on the construction of a building to construct building and infrastructure for the National Police Academy of Maldives.
To improve connectivity, the two countries will examine the feasibility of a regular passenger-cum-cargo ferry service between Kochi and Male at the earliest.
In order to safeguard mutual security interests, India and Maldives have agreed to cooperate on issues relating to climate change, piracy, terrorism, drug trafficking and other common threats to both the countries. The memorandum of understanding signed today provides the framework for expanded cooperation on issues like combating terrorism, drug trafficking, disaster management and coastal security.
''India attaches the highest importance to its relations with Maldives. We seek a deeper and stronger partnership with each other. We are guided by the premise that a prosperous, democratic and peaceful Maldives is in the interest of the entire region,'' Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said after talks with Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed.
The agreements were signed by the foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai and the Maldivian Permanent Secretary in the ministry of foreign affairs, Mohammed Nasir.