‘India-Maldives to increase commercial ties’

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna held wide ranging talks with Maldives Prez Mohamed Nasheed and his counterpart Ahmed Naseem.

Updated: Jul 29, 2011, 23:06 PM IST

On Board Special Aircraft: India and
Maldives have agreed to increase commercial relations between
the two countries and discussed cooperation in defence and
maritime sectors.

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, who held wide
ranging talks with Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed and his
counterpart Ahmed Naseem, said the two countries have decided
to further cement their cordial relations.

"The entire gamut of bilateral relations was discussed
during my visit. We discussed regional and global issues of
mutual interest. India and Maldives have cordial relations. We
decided to further enhance the cordial relation," he told
reporters accompanying him on his way back home from a two day
visit to Maldives.

Krishna said Maldives wanted special focus on
connectivity, including shipping and air, between the two

"We agreed that commercial relationship between India
and Maldives should be increased," he said.

The two countries also held discussions on defence and

Krishna said he discussed the issue of piracy with the
Maldivian leadership and both countries felt the need for a
joint endeavour to fight the menace.

Krishna said he also discussed the issue of climate
change during his talks with the Maldivian President.

A ferry service would soon be launched to connect
Kochi in Kerala to the Maldivian capital of Male, as part of
efforts by India and Maldives to improve connectivity between
the two countries.

Besides augmenting sea connectivity, a daily direct
flight between Mumbai and Male has also been finalised.

Officials of the Ministry of External Affairs said
expressions of interest have already been invited for the
ferry service. The ferry service will have all facilities
available in a cruise.

The proposal was mooted to explore the vast
opportunities in the tourism sector between the two countries,
officials said.

Seeking better connectivity between the two countries,
Minister of External Affairs SM Krishna said India wants
measures for better people-to-people contact with Maldives.

"We have been working together on increasing
connectivity and closer economic integration," Krishna, who
arrived here on a two-day visit, said.

Officials said Civil Aviation Ministry has approved
the proposal for a direct daily flight between Mumbai and Male
and sources said Kingfisher Airlines was likely to operate the
daily flight.