India and Maldives today signed three agreements covering areas such as cooperation in health care, visa and consular issues and defence and maritime cooperation. The agreements were signed after delegation level talks between Maldives president Abdula Yameen Abdul Gayoom and Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi today.
India extended a standby credit of $25 million for imports from the country. It has also agreed to consider favourably Maldives' proposal for import of diesel, petrol and aviation fuel from the country.
Both sides agreed to address concerns of Indians in Maldives and Maldivians in India regarding consular and visa issues.
The countries also agreed to consider a bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement at the earliest after a diplomatic row over the cancellation of GMR's airport project by the Maldivian government.
Addressing investor concerns in India, Gayoom said the Maldives airport issue could be amicably settled and that his government was willing to work for a solution that makes both parties happy.
Addressing the media after the meeting, prime minister Singh said since the development aspirations and security interests of India and Maldives are closely linked, the two sides have agreed to cooperate in maritime security in the Indian Ocean region. ''We are also conscious of the need to remain vigilant against terrorism and we share the firm commitment to remain sensitive to each other's concerns and not allow our territories to be used by any inimical quarters,'' he added.
He said the two sides have agreed on a number of initiatives to strengthen bilateral defence and security cooperation, including through training, supply of equipment, capacity building, joint patrolling and aerial and maritime surveillance. We are also deepening our trilateral maritime security cooperation with Sri Lanka and look forward to expanding it to other countries in the Indian Ocean.
''India is ready to provide further assistance and support to Maldives in strengthening our collective ability to address our shared security challenges,'' he added.
Gayoom said that he came to India with a long shopping list and added "my delegation is not disappointed".
The newly elected president Abdula Yameen Abdul Gayoom began his first trip abroad with a four-day visit to India on Wednesday.
His visit comes in the backdrop of the island nation wanting to increase sourcing of products from India.
Besides, as members of SAAEC, the two countries discussed cooperation in global and regional forums, including better integration of South Asia.