India and Fiji today laid the foundation for stronger bilateral relations and international partnership with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Fijian counterpart Josiah Bainimarama signing a spate of agreements and vowing to further promote India-Fiji ties.
Prime Minister Modi who arrived in the Fijian capital Suva earlier this morning, on the third and final leg of his 10-day three-nation tour, announced a $75 million line of credit for Fiji for a co-generation power plant and upgrading the sugar industry and also a $5 million fund to develop its villages, besides agreeing to expand bilateral defence and security cooperation between the two countries.
The two sides agreed to consult more closely on international issues of mutual interest, including international trade, climate change, United Nations Peacekeeping and UN reforms.
Fiji could serve as a hub for stronger Indian engagement with Pacific Islands, Modi said after talks with Fijian PM Bainimarama.
Besides identifying opportunities to expand trade and investments and work out a concrete roadmap, India and Fiji also agreed to expand defence and security cooperation, including assistance in defence training and capacity building.
''In addition to traditional areas of economic cooperation, we look forward to closer engagement in areas like information technology and space applications,'' Modi said, adding that Fiji has been a major support base for India's space missions, especially the Mars mission.
Expressing delight at the signing of three agreements between New Delhi and Suva, Fijian Prime Minister Josiah Bainimarama said he is proud to have India as a partner in his country's future.
"This is only the beginning. We have some 15 more agreements in the works and we expect to sign them soon," said Bainimarama after the signing of agreements between both sides.
"We are pleased that our relationship with India is growing and we are proud to have India as a partner in Fiji's future," he added.
Bainimarama said that he had a very cordial and productive discussion with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"And I must say I was not surprised that we found much common ground. I believe we have laid the groundwork for a very productive relationship in the future," he added.
The Fijian prime minister said India is a growing power with a very talented people.
"It is making impressive advances in technology, in creating opportunities and economic growth all while tackling long-standing problems of poverty, underdevelopment and marginalisation," he added.
Bainimarama further said the two sides have much to learn from each other.
"And so we believe, we need to stimulate exchanges as much as possible. Our people have a great deal of wisdom and experience and we need to put them together to share that," said Bainimarama.
"Fiji also needs assistance and I am pleased that we have been able to discuss India's assistance to Fiji which is both generous and respectful of our needs," he added.
Prime Minister Modi, who made these announcements after talks with his Fijian counterpart, also announced a visa on arrival for Fijians and assistance projects that included a parliament library and doubling the scholarships and training slots in India for people from this country.
Modi also announce a number of measures, including the setting up of a special adaptation fund of $1 million to address the climate change issue, which is a major issue of concern for all countries, especially for Pacific Island countries.
India, he said, would be happy to provide technical assistance and training for capacity building to our Pacific Island partners.
Besides, he proposed a Pan Pacific Islands e-network project for achieving better connectivity and coordination among the island nations that are far apart.
In keeping with the success achieved in the pan-Africa Project, India also proposed to develop Pan Pacific Islands Project for telemedicine and tele-education.
We are also working on a solar energy project with the Pacific Islands at the community level. The regional hubs will be developed in the Pacific Islands.
To address travel concerns of all the fourteen Pacific Island Countries, India also proposed to provide Visa on Arrival for nationals of all Pacific Island countries - Cook Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, Republic of Nauru, Republic of Kiribati, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Niue, Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.