New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will undertake two-day visit to the Maldives beginning on Saturday to attend a meeting of the India-Maldives Joint Commission which will focus on cooperation in sectors such as energy, health, trade and defence.
The last Joint Commission meeting was held in 2000, which means that Swaraj visit will effectively reactivate the process 15 years later. The meeting would be chaired by Swaraj and her Maldivian counterpart Dunya Mamoon.
"While in Male, she will also call on President Abdulla Yameen and she will hold talks with Ministers of defence, economic development, and health," MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. He added that the Joint Commission is a very important mechanism to review the multi-faceted relationship.
"We expect the talks to give directions for enhancing trade and investment, meet developmental objectives in Maldives, discuss further cooperation in areas such as health care, energy collaboration and HRD," he said.
Swarup said the two sides would also discuss very close cooperation between India and Maldives on defence and security ties. Asked why the Joint Commission is being restarted, he said it was mutually felt that it was time to ramp up bilateral ties.
Replying to a query on a recent bomb blast targeting the Maldivian President, Swarup said "we were very concerned when we heard about it. We immediately offered treatment facility in India and as per request of Maldives, we sent a three-member forensic team to conduct audit of boat to determine the cause of the explosion".
Talking about the ongoing trial of former Maldivian President Mohammad Nasheed, he said as the world's largest democracy, India has always supported political pluralism and democracy in the country.
"We expect this situation to be handled in accordance with laws and rules of Maldives and hope that the outcome would be seen by everybody as being fair and just. I think that is the most important thing," he said. The spokesperson hoped that a solution is found and said India was committed to peace, stability and progress in the Maldives.