Male: PM Modi and Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih held wide-ranging talks on Saturday as the two countries signed six agreements to strengthen bila-teral cooperation in key areas like defence and maritime security. Modi arrived in the Indian Ocean archipelago on Saturday on his first foreign visit after re-election as Prime Minister to strengthen the bilateral ties, reflecting the importance India attaches to its 'Neighbourhood First' policy. The first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was for cooperation in the fields of hydrography. Another was on health.
The other agreements included on the establishment of passenger and cargo services by sea, cooperation in customs capacity building between the Central Board of Indir-ect Taxes and Customs of India and the Maldives Customs Service. An MoU was also signed between the National Centre for Good Governance, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances and Maldives Civil Service Commission on Tra-ining and Capacity Building Programme for Maldivian civil servants.
A technical agreement on sharing white shipping information between the Indian Navy and the Maldives National Defence Force was also signed. A coastal surveillance radar system and a composite training centre for the Maldives defence forces were jointly inaugurated by the two leaders. In a first, the two countries have agreed to start a ferry service between Kochi and the Maldives, he said.
He said that maritime and defence ties are a top priority and the radar system will boost maritime security. The two-day state visit of PM Modi is aimed at further cementing ties with the Indian Ocean archipelago. Also, PM Modi was conferred with the Maldives' highest honour "Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen" on Saturday during his two-day state visit to the country.