A parliamentary delegation from the Maldives led by its Speaker Mohamed Nasheed met Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and deliberated on the close bilateral ties and India's 'Neighbourhood First' policy.
Welcoming the delegation, Naidu appreciated the important role Nasheed played in ushering democracy in the Maldives as well as in promoting bilateral ties with India.
Acknowledging his contribution as Speaker of the Maldivian Parliament in bringing the countries closer, the Rajya Sabha Chairman said that Parliament being the bedrock of any democracy, closer ties between Majlis and Indian Parliament will further strengthen both the democracies, according to a statement by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat.
Speaking on bilateral relations between the two countries, Naidu said that being a close neighbour with ties of kinship, history and culture, India shares close bonds with the Maldives and it is because of shared democratic values, multi-faceted partnership between the two countries will get consolidated.
He further said that the relations between the two nations derive its strength from mutual trust, respect and sensitivity for each other's concerns.
Recalling the state visits of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to India in December last year and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Maldives in June this year, the Rajya Sabha Chairman said that these visits have opened up new vistas for bilateral cooperation which encompasses defence and security cooperation, capacity building and training in a vast spectrum of areas.
"Reflecting upon India's Neighbourhood First policy and Maldives' India First policy, Naidu said that it charted a new path for development and cooperation," the statement said.
Naidu appreciated that people-to-people contacts between India and the Maldives have strengthened in the past one year spanning areas such as tourism in which there has been a 105 per cent increase during January-September this year as compared to the same period in 2018, in business, health and education.
"Speaking on parliamentary cooperation between the two countries, he said that as a close neighbour and friend, India is happy to share its best practices in the areas of Parliamentary work and legislation and to strengthen institutional linkages between the Indian Parliament and the People's Majlis through training and capacity building," the statement said.
The Maldivian delegation appreciated the friendly relationships between the two countries and hoped that such visits will further strengthen the existing bonds.
Welcoming the delegation in Parliament House Annexe Extension building, the Lok Sabha Speaker said that along with historical and cultural relations, both India and Maldives as neighbouring countries have a lot to share with each other.
Noting that India's 'Neighbourhood First' policy is in line with the 'India First' policy of Maldives, Birla emphasised that the two countries should increase their cooperation not only in the economic fields and employment but also in the social sectors.
He also said that the vision of Modi and Solih underlines such purposive cooperation between the two nations.
"Birla acknowledged the role of Mr Nasheed in establishing democracy in the Maldives and said that the developmental cooperation between India and Maldives is a symbol of friendship and mutual trust and strengthens the bilateral relations," a statement from the Lok Sabha Secretariat said.
He also thanked the Maldives government for the full support extended to the Indian parliamentary delegation during the recently held fourth South Asian Speakers' Summit on achieving SDGs in Male in the Maldives.
On his part, Nasheed recalled the deep bonds between the two countries. Emphasising that the bilateral trade needs an impetus, he hoped that India would play a purposive role in rectifying anomalies emerging out of his country's economic engagements with other countries, the statement said.
Later, Birla and Nasheed signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on enhancing cooperation between the two Parliaments.
The Maldivian Parliament Speaker also signed the Golden Book.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)