Suva: Reaching out to 14 Pacific Island nations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced setting up of a USD 1 million fund and visa on arrival facility for them, besides several measures to strengthen the relationship.
Speaking at a meeting with the regional leaders, he said India wishes to be a close partner of the Pacific Islands and announced setting up of a Special Adaptation Fund of USD 1 million.
"By setting up this Fund, India would be happy to provide technical assistance and training for capacity building to our Pacific Island Partners," the prime minister said.
He proposed to develop Pan Pacific Islands Project for telemedicine and tele-education, saying "Given the distance between the islands and poor connectivity, e-networks are an effective means for coordination."
Noting the inconvenience in travel due to Visa issues, Modi announced visa on arrival facility for all the 14 Pacific Island countries and hoped that it will facilitate exchanges and promote better understanding between the peoples.
"I would wish to provide Visa on Arrival for nationals of all Pacific Island countries, Cook Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, Republic of Nauru, Republic of Kiribati, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Niue, Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea," he said.
He also announced an increase in Grant-in-Aid to Pacific Island countries from USD 125,000 annually to USD 200,000 to each Pacific Island country for community projects.
The Prime Minister said India was ready to support the setting up of a Trade Office in New Delhi to promote trade between India and Pacific Island countries.
"We shall also provide complimentary space to Pacific Island countries during exhibitions organised by ITPO to showcase your products," he said.
"We can do joint research in traditional medicine. Explore options of developing healthcare facilities for the benefit of people in the region," he added.
Modi proposed to depute technical experts to Pacific Island countries including in the fields of agriculture, healthcare and IT. He also offered cooperation in use of space technology applications for improving the quality of life of people and communications.
"We can look at possibilities of sharing data that could be used for monitoring climate change, disaster risk reduction and management, resource management," he said, noting that climate change is a major issue of concern for them.
"We are also working on a solar energy project with the Pacific Islands at the community level. The regional hubs will be developed in the Pacific Islands," he added.
Modi also offered training programmes to the diplomats of Pacific Island countries and proposed a distinguished visitors programme under which the two sides can organise seminars explore new ideas for strengthening mutually beneficially economic cooperation.
He proposed a Forum for India?Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) be held on a regular basis.
Modi also invited the leaders for next meeting in New Delhi in 2015.