Male, Feb 20 (PTI) India on Saturday offered a USD 40 million Line of Credit to boost sports infrastructure in the Maldives as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar expressed hope to see a cricket team from the island nation competing in a major international tournament.
Speaking at an event at Ekuveni Stadium here, he said that India acknowledges the high priority accorded by Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to sports… and India is privileged to be a partner in that effort.
“I am happy to announce that in order to support the development of sports infrastructure to fulfil the interests and aspirations of the Maldivian people, India has offered a standalone Line of Credit of USD 40 million for sports infrastructure in the Maldives,” Jaishankar said in the presence of former president and Speaker Mohamed Nasheed, his Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid and Sports Minister Ahmed Mahloof.
“This funding is neither for a specific sport nor for a special island. It is for multiple sports facilities across the islands, so that as large a number of our friends in Maldives can benefit as possible. Our cooperation in sports is not new,” the minister said.
“Our development assistance has made possible a modern running track and playground,” Jaishankar said.
'I look forward to the day when I can watch a Maldivian team in a major international cricket tournament,' the minister said.
He said that Speaker Nasheed is an inspiration in many ways and he is also an inspiration for the sports people.
The Maldives is a young nation and the Maldivian people have tremendous sporting talent, he said, adding that they have proven their talents in the Indian Ocean Island Games held in Port Louis in 2019 with a record medal tally and gold medals in table tennis and badminton.
Neighbourhood is the first priority is what can be said about India and the Maldives. The two countries share such good relations like no other. The Maldives received doses of COVID-19 vaccine within 96 hours of the vaccine launched in India, Jaishankar said.
“I urge you to convey my message of friendship to the people,” he said.
“While our bilateral relations are multi-faceted, a key dimension is that India is a trusted and reliable development partner. India’s development assistance is aimed at supporting the aspirations of the youth in the Maldives,' the minister said in his address.
It is helping the government of Maldives in building infrastructure, broadening the economic pace and making the economy more robust and resilient, he said.
“The abiding faith in democracy is the common thread that binds our two countries,” Jaishankar said.
Jaishankar, who arrived here on the first leg of his two-nation tour that will also take him to Mauritius, handed over 100,000 additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Foreign Minister and Health Minister Kerafa Naseem.
Earlier, he held talks with his Maldivian counterpart Shahid and discussed the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation, saying India's time-tested relationship with the Maldives is poised to take a quantum jump. PTI IND/RUP CPS AKJ CPS