External Affairs Minister (EAM) of India, Dr. S. Jaishankar visited Male, Maldives on September 3-4, 2019 which was his first high-level bilateral visit from India to Maldives after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s State Visit on June 8-9, 2019. He also participated in the 4th edition of Indian Ocean Conference (IOC) 2019.
A Treaty on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters signed
i. India and Maldives signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) on criminal matters which aims to increase the effectiveness in investigation and prosecution of crime, through cooperation and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters of both countries. It was the first MLAT signed by Maldives.
ii. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid discussed the ongoing cooperation in various fields and ways to further strengthen the bilateral ties between both nations at Paradise Island Resort, Maldives.
iii. An MLAT is an agreement between two or more countries for the purpose of gathering and exchanging information in an effort to enforce public laws or criminal laws.
New building of the Indian Embassy
EAM Dr Jaishankar, along with his counterpart Abdulla Shahid laid the foundation stone of the new building of the Indian Embassy in Maldives.
i. EAM met Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and briefed him on the satisfactory status of implementation of decisions taken during President Solih’s visit to India in December, 2018 and Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Maldives in June, 2019. EAM assured India’s commitment to develop Maldives.
ii. He met the Speaker of Maldivian Parliament Mohamed Nasheed and held talks with him. Mr Nasheed was the fourth President of the Maldives (2008 to 2012). He was the first democratically elected president of the Maldives and one of the founders of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
iii. He met Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and held bilateral talks with him. They reviewed the state of bilateral relations of both the nations of the past 9 months.
4th Indian Ocean Conference (IOC) for the year 2019 held at Paradise Island Resort in Maldives
The 4th edition of Indian Ocean Conference (IOC) for 2019 was held on September 3-4, 2019 at Paradise Island Resort in Maldives with the theme “Securing the Indian Ocean Region: Traditional and Non-Traditional Challenges”. It was organised by India Foundation in association with the Government of Maldives and S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Singapore.
i. Speakers from different countries participated in the conference.
ii. The Organizing Committee of the Conference was chaired by the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremasinghe. Vice chairmen were EAM Dr. S Jaishankar, Mr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Singapore and Mr Abdulla Shahid, Foreign Minister of Maldives.
iii. The discussions were held on developing effective regional institutional mechanism for implementation of prevailing norms and rules.
iv. The themes that were discussed in the conference are as follows:
- Marine Ecology: Climate Change, Global warming and consequent rise of Sea Levels, Pollution, Sustainable harnessing of Oceanic Resources.
- Terrorism: Rising Specter of Terrorism in Indian Ocean Region, Marine Terrorism.
- Navigational Security: Freedom of Navigation, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its effective implementation, Natural and Manmade hazards to Navigation, Piracy.
v. During an address at the conference, EAM stated that Indo-Pacific is the logical step after Act East and a break out from the confines of South Asia.
Meetings on the side-lines of the Conference
The EAM spoke to the following persons on the sidelines of the conference:
i. He called on Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremasinghe.
ii. He met the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade of Mauritius Nandcoomar Bodha.
iii. He met Secretary General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Oman Sayyid bin Hamad Albusaidi.
♦ Capital: Male
♦ Currency: Maldivian rufiyaa