New Delhi: India is set
to seal an all embracing agreement and a counter-terror pact with
the Maldives when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets President
Mohammed Nasheed in Male Friday.
Amid China's attempt to increase its clout in the Indian Ocean
island, Manmohan Singh will meet Nasheed for bilateral talks after
the end of the two-day SAARC summit in the capital Male, the first
time an Indian prime minister is visiting the 1,190 island
archipelago in nearly a decade.
In a special gesture underlining time-tested ties between the two
countries, Manmohan Singh will address the People's Majlis, the
Maldivian parliament Friday before returning to Delhi in the
evening. He will be the first world leader to address the
Maldivian parliament in its 78-year history.
In their talks, the two leaders are expected to discuss an entire
gamut of bilateral issues, including piracy, terrorism, climate
change and the intensification of development and economic ties,
said reliable sources.
After the talks, the two sides are expected to ink an overarching
agreement that seeks to expand cooperation across an entire
spectrum of areas.
The pact could entail India increasing its developmental and
capacity building assistance that could include India helping set
up a police academy, sources said. New Delhi is also expected to
unveil a fresh line of credit for development projects in the
With piracy in the Indian Ocean region threatening the interests
of both countries, the two sides are also likely to ink a
India hopes that the prime minister's visit will "inject new
momentum and content to its relations with this close and
strategic neighbour in the Indian Ocean".
The meeting comes against the backdrop of China's renewed foray to
deepen its diplomatic footprints in the strategically located
island. India has taken note of the visit of Wu Bangguo, chairman
of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC)
of China, to the Maldives in May, but has rejected any rivalry
"We have a very strong relationship with Maldives including a very
close defence relationship. In our interactions with the Maldives,
they are fully cognizant of our interests and our concerns,"
Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said here Saturday. "We do not see
any reason to be concerned," he added.
In fact, the Maldivian president has assured that he would never
do anything that threatens India's security. "I trust democracy
far more than any other system," Nasheed said in Perth on the
sidelines of the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting