Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. PHOTO: AFP

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan and Maldives on Thursday signed four memorandums of understanding (MoUs) during Maldives President Abdullah Yamin Abdul Gayoom’s visit to the PM House.

Both PM Nawaz Sharif and the Maldives leader pointed out that their countries had been sincere friends of each other for more than 49 years.

During their talks the prime minister said that Pakistan attaches high importance to its relationship with the Maldives. “Our relations are characterised by cordiality, mutual respect and commonality of interest,” he said.

He regarded the visit of President Gayoom as an important milestone in the bilateral relations between the two countries.

The prime minister said Pakistan is aware of Maldives concerns on climate and environmental issues, and is willing to cooperate on these issues bilaterally with Maldives, as well as under the ambit of Saarc.

The prime minister said both Pakistan and Maldives must continue to closely coordinate their positions on the platform of Saarc with an aim to make it a model of regional cooperation, based on the principles of sovereign equality.

The prime minister said bilateral trade between Pakistan and Maldives is below its true potential and emphasised that steps should be taken to increase it.

Gayoom said the Parliament building of Maldives, is a living monument of friendship between the people of Pakistan and Maldives. Pakistan built the Parliament building as a gift to the Maldives.

The prime minister fondly recalled his 1996 visit to the Maldives in 1996 for the inauguration of the Parliament building.

The two countries also signed four MoUs. These included:

1. MoU on cooperation of combating illicit trafficking and abuse of narcotics drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors.

2. MoU on bilateral cooperation in the field of sports.

3. Memorandum of understanding on health.

4. Memorandum of understanding between Pakistan and Maldives in the field of education.

One-on-one meeting between President Gayoom and PM Nawaz was followed by delegation level meeting during which tourism, trade, investment, counter terrorism, human resource training, defense as well as regional situation came under discussion.

In a joint press conference follow the meeting PM Nawaz said ‘We are focused on the need for regular political exchanges between Pakistan and Maldives. We agreed on the importance of trade, tourism and people-to-people contact”

“I informed the president that Pakistan is focused on growth and development to ensure prosperity to our people. To this end, we want peaceful relations with all our neighbours” he elaborated.

Maldivian President Abdullah Yamin Abdul Gayoom added “Following extensive discussions on various issues of mutual interest during the official talks, Prime Minister Sharif and I had the pleasure a short while ago to witness the signing of a number of important agreements between our two countries.”

“I look forward to a long-lasting partnership that will not only strengthen existing ties but also open up new areas for cooperation and provide mutual benefits to Maldives and Pakistan” the PM was also quoted as saying

Later, the prime minister hosted a lunch in honour of the visiting dignitary.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2015.