Male: Highlighting the positive role played by India in the last two years, Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in his national address has especially thanked the Indian Government's role in helping his country cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, including gifting vaccines.
In his address, Solih mentioned several friendly bilateral partners but singled out New Delhi for assisting Maldives' COVID-19 response efforts. "In the last two years, India has generously aided us on many occasions. India donated the most number of vaccines. India purchased financial bonds worth USD 250 million to help recover our economy. We received a lot of equipment from India essential to provide health services, Solih said.
Maldives President underlined that India eased up access for Maldivians requiring urgent health care, allowing them to travel to the country. "This privilege was not afforded to any other country besides the Maldives."
"I also wish to thank, on behalf of all Maldivians, our friendly bilateral partners who assisted our COVID-19 response efforts. I take this opportunity to highlight India, Japan, USA, UAE, China, Bangladesh, WHO and some of the UN agencies for their support," Solih said.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the Maldives has always been a close and important maritime neighbour for India. Multifaceted ties between the two countries have strengthened despite the pandemic-related disruptions.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Solih had a telephonic conversation in July 2021. Bilateral cooperation with Maldives includes the creation of people-friendly infrastructure - housing, water and sanitation, health and education, ports, roads and stadiums. It also includes maritime security; connectivity and people to people exchanges.
India gifted 200,000 doses of Covishield vaccines to the Maldives in January - February 2021 and this set the stage for a rapid and successful vaccination drive in the Maldives. Today, more than 90 per cent of the eligible population in the Maldives is vaccinated. This has enabled the Maldivian economy to get back on a path to recovery.
India's "Neighborhood First" policy and Maldives's "India First" policy work in tandem to tackle shared concerns and advance mutual interests, MEA said in its annual report.