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India backs Maldives foreign minister for UNGA Presidency

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New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) India on Saturday strongly supported the candidature of Maldives’ foreign minster Abdulla Shahid for President of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly next year.

During his visit to the Maldives, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday said that Shahid, with his vast diplomatic experience and leadership qualities is, in India’s view, the best equipped to preside over the General Assembly of 193 nations of the world. “We will work together to make this a reality,” he said.

Jaishankar also said that India would like to work with the Maldives during its membership of the United Nations Security Council for 2021-22.

Reciprocating the sentiment, Shahid, who spoke in Hindi, said, “A bird in flight, stays true on course, with not one but two wings in syncrhonised motion. Our two countries are like those wings. We work in harmony, we work together, with the same interests, aiming to reach the same destination.”

Jaishankar said that the time-tested India-Maldives relationship is today poised for a quantum jump, scaling newer heights and touching the lives of the people like never before. “We are partners in development, but also in promoting peace and security in the region.”

‘India First’ has been the underlying foreign policy approach of the Government of Maldives. President Ibrahim Solih, ever since he assumed office in November 2018, has taken concerted initiatives on this front. This has been in congruence with India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.

India’s rapid and comprehensive assistance to the Maldives since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has further reinforced its credentials of being the first responder.

Maldives was the first country to receive Covid-19 vaccines from India when India gifted 100,000 doses in January 2021.

This was preceded by a series of health and humanitarian assistance provided in 2020 that included donation of 5.5 tonnes of essential medicines, airlifting of 6.2 tonnes of medicines by the IAF from various India cities through Operation Sanjeevani, supply of 580 tons of food aid under Mission SAGAR by INS Kesari and deployment of Rapid Response Medical Team to assist in Covid-19 preventive methods.

On Saturday, the two sides jointly reviewed the ongoing Indian infrastructure projects under two Lines of Credit worth $ 1.2 billion. The Contract for one of the most important infrastructure projects – for the construction of Roads in Addu has been finalised and will be signed tomorrow. This will bring tangible benefits to the people of Addu and transform lives and livelihoods in the South of Maldives.

India is partnering with Maldives in the prestigious Greater Male Connectivity Project – the largest connectivity project ever in the Maldives, which is expected to become an economic lifeline of the new Maldives; connecting Male with Villingili, the new commercial port at Gulhifalhu and industrial zone at Thilafushi.

–IANS

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