India and the Maldives plan to launch a ferry service between Kochi and the Maldivian capital Male. It will be a passenger-cum-cargo service to strengthen connectivity between the two countries and boost tourism.
The initiative was announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day state visit to Maldives. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the two countries for the establishment of passenger and cargo services by sea.
Prime Minister Modi and Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Saturday directed officials to promptly work towards starting the regular ferry service between the neighbouring countries.
“I am particularly happy that we have agreed upon a ferry service between the two countries,” Prime Minister Modi said while addressing the Maldivian Parliament on Saturday.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said that the ferry service was discussed during the talks between Prime Minister Modi and President Solih.
“This is the first time we are going to begin passenger cum cargo services directly connecting the Indian mainland with the Maldives from Kochi via Kulhudhuffushi to Male,” Gokhale said.
The Ministry of External Affairs said that both the leaders emphasised the need to improve connectivity between the two countries through the establishment of enabling infrastructure and in this regard, directed their concerned officials to expeditiously work towards starting a regular passenger-cum-cargo ferry service between Kochi and Male.
This is Modis first foreign visit after his re-election as Prime Minister in May, reflecting the importance India attaches to its Neighbourhood First policy. While Modi visited the Maldives in November 2018 to attend President Solihs swearing-in, this visit is the first by an Indian Prime Minister at a bilateral level in eight years.
The relations between India and the Maldives deteriorated after the then President Abdulla Yameen imposed emergency on February 5 last year.
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