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Maldives News Bulletin, 03-02-2008
Issue No: No.1147
President Gayoom is the architect of the India-Maldives relationship and SAARC: Indian Foreign Secretary

28 Jan: The Indian Foreign Secretary, Mr. Shivshankar Menon has said that President Gayoom is the architect of the India-Maldives relationship, as well as SAARC. During his call on the President this morning, Mr. Menon highlighted the President's continuous endeavor to develop of SAARC. He also noted the important role that President Gayoom has played in promoting awareness on environmental issues. He thanked the President for the support and cooperation given by the Maldivian Government to India at various international forums.

During the meeting, the President expressed his confidence that the very warm ties of friendship and cooperation that exist between Maldives and India would continue to strengthen in the coming years. He further noted that India has always been quick to extend aid to the Maldives in time of need. In particular, he thanked the Indian Government for its prompt assistance in the aftermath of the tsunami. The President also thanked the Indian Government for their support in the development of the Maldives.

The call was attended by the Maldivian High Commissioner to India, Lt. Gen. (Rtd.) Anbaree Abdul Sattar Adam, Minister for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Mohamed Hussain, Ambassador at Large, Mr. Abdul Azeez Yoosuf, Indian High Commissioner to Maldives, Mr. A. K. Pandey and Deputy Minister at the President's Office, Dr. Hala Hameed.

 

Indian Minister of State for Commerce and Industry pays a courtesy call on Foreign Minister

28 Jan:  Indian Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, His Excellency Mr. Jairam Ramesh, paid a courtesy call on Honorable Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Foreign Affairs. The call took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today.

During the call, the Foreign Minister recalled the historical bonds of friendship between the peoples of India and the Maldives, and discussed ways of further strengthening the relations. Minister Shahid also expressed his gratitude for India's continued assistance to the socio-economic development of the Maldives.

State Minister Ramesh expressed hope that the Maldives-India Joint Commission will be convened at an early date. He also discussed ways of increasing investment opportunities between India and the Maldives.

H. E. Lieutenant General (Rt.) Anbaree Abdul Sattar, High Commissioner of Maldives in India, H.E. Mr. Avanindra Kumar Pandey, High Commissioner of India to the Maldives, and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended the call.



The President says that the Gan International Airport would make a remarkable contribution to speeding up the pace of development in Addu Atoll

29 Jan: The President today said that the Gan International Airport would make a remarkable contribution to speeding up the pace of progress in Addu Atoll.

Speaking at the ceremony held to officially inaugurate the Airport, the President said that the Government attaches a very high priority to the development of Addu Atoll in particular, as it is the most populous atoll in Maldives. He noted that a number of projects had been launched for the progress of Addu Atoll over the past few years, and that the opening of the International Airport was a notable achievement in the field of aviation.

Urging the employees of all the airports in Maldives to provide the best services for their customers, the President said that Airports were the face-front representatives of the country.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Minister of Transport and Communication, Mr. Mohamed Saeed noted the historic significance of the Addu Atoll Airport. He further said that Maldives had achieved significant progress in the field of aviation due to the collaborative efforts of the Government and the people.

The President and the First Lady were greeted upon their arrival at the ceremony by the Minister of Transport and Communication, Mr. Mohamed Saeed, Senior officials of the Ministry, the regional airport and Maldives Airports Company ltd.

The students of Feydhoo School presented the President and the First Lady with a welcome song at the airport.

             
The President Inaugurates Herathera Island Resort

30Jan:The country's second largest holiday resort, Herethera, was officially opened by President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in a televised ceremony.

The President and the First Lady were greeted upon their arrival at the Inauguration Ceremony of the resort by the Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Dr. Mahmood Shaugee, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Maldives Tourism Promotion Board, Mr. Hussain Afeef, Managing Director of Maldives Tourism Development Corporation, Mr. Mohamed Solih, members of the Board of Directors, distinguished guests attending the ceremony and the General Manager of the resort.

Speaking at the ceremony, the President said that the opening of Herathera Island Resort was a remarkable achievement for MTDC and noted that the whole resort had been successfully completed within 16 months. He further said that work to open two more resorts in Addu Atoll is underway, and that the people of the atoll would benefit greatly from these projects.

The people of Addu Atoll presented the President with a plaque to commemorate his contributions towards the commencement of international flights and the promotion of tourism in Addu. Mr. Mohamed Abdulla presented the plaque to the President on behalf of the Addu Atoll Committee.

Certificates were presented to those who had contributed to the successful inauguration of Herathera Island Resort. The recipients of these certificates were    Dr. Mahmood Shaugee, Mr. Champa Hussain Afeef, Mr. Mohamed Solih, Mr. Ibrahim Nooradeen, Maldives Tourism Development Corporation, and the Late Mohamed Saeed of Addu Atoll Hithadhoo Moonlight Villa.

MTDC presented the people of Addu Atoll with an honorary plaque for their efforts in developing the resort. Tour operators, Thomas Cook and Hotelplan also received plaques for their contribution and faith in Herathera Island Resort. The plaques and certificates were presented by the President.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation,  Dr. Mahmood Shaugee said that the arrival of tourists directly to Addu Atoll through this international gateway has long been a dream of all the residents of the atoll. He noted that the inauguration of the resort could not have been possible without the full cooperation and support of several key figures of the tourism sector.

In his welcome address, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Maldives Tourism Development Corporation, Mr. Hussain Afeef said that today was a significant day for the people of Maldives, particularly to the people of Addu Atoll. He highlighted various difficulties faced during the development of the resort and noted that all the work in building the resort had been done by Maldivians.

In his vote of thanks, the Managing Director of MTDC, Mr. Mohamed Solih noted the high priority attached by the Government and the President in particular to the development of Herathera Island Resort.

The President met with the Board of Directors of MTDC during his visit to the resort.



Maldives Hosts First Meeting of Friends of Climate Change and Human Rights

30 Jan:The Maldives today convened the first ever meeting of the Friends of Climate Change and its Implications for the Full Enjoyment of Human Rights at the Palais des Nations (UN) in Geneva. The meeting, which was attended by over 80 government representatives from around 50 States, aimed to both introduce the idea that climate change has implications for a wide range of fundamental human rights and to launch a UN Human Rights Council debate on the subject.

The meeting was chaired by H.E. Mr. Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations Office at Geneva and was organized with the support of the Permanent Missions of Costa Rica, Uruguay, Iceland, Switzerland, the UK, Germany, Serbia, Bangladesh and Ghana. Following a Panel Debate including presentations from senior officials from the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, government representatives were invited to offer their provisional thoughts.

Introducing the meeting, Ambassador Ghafoor began by reminding delegations about the particular vulnerability of the Maldives and its people to climate change: "As a Small Island Nation where no point on the map is more than a few kilometers from the coast and no point more than 2 meters above sea-level, it is no exaggeration to say that our very survival as a viable and functioning State is threatened by global warming".

The Ambassador went on to argue that despite this growing threat to countries like the Maldives, the past twenty years has seen very little progress in terms of global efforts to arrest global warming. Indeed, the problem now is worse than it has ever been.

Commenting on the reasons for this, Mr. Ghafoor suggested that people around the world have failed to grasp the scale and the immediacy of the human impact of climate change. "Climate change continues to be seen as a scientific prediction measured in parts-per-million or degrees centigrade, instead of what it is: a phenomenon that is real, immediate and already affecting millions of human lives around the planet – especially in the world's poorest countries" he said.

"When one considers this human dimension of climate change, it becomes evident that the problem has implications for the full range of human activity and human interaction. Climate change has clear development implications. It has clear security implications. It has clear health implications. It has clear humanitarian implications. And, last but not least, it has clear and immediate human rights implications".

Bearing in mind these human rights implications, the Ambassador stressed the urgent need for the UN Human Rights Council to convene a debate on the issue, as requested by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, in his speech to the Council last September, and also as requested by the Male' Declaration on the Human Dimension of Climate Change.

Speaking after the introductions and the Panel Debate, a wide-range of States took the floor to congratulate the Maldives Government on its initiative and to express their support for holding a Council debate on climate change.


India, Maldives Set To Prepare New Trade Agreement


31 Jan:  Existing trade agreements between India and the Maldives could be reviewed as soon as three months' time following a visit from Indian Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh.

The current Indo-Maldives Trade Agreement dates from 1981, and governs India's supply of commodities including eggs, potatoes, and rice and construction materials.

But this week's talks established a rapid time frame for a fresh agreement, which will have a new emphasis on investment. The two governments hope to complete a joint feasibility study within 90 days, Maldives Trade Minister Mohamed Jaleel said on Thursday.

Maldives relies heavily on imports, of which 10 to 11 per cent come from India, including many of the basic construction materials crucial to the ongoing development of Maldives' tourism industry. These include river sand and aggregates.

But Sri Lanka and Singapore both exceed India in export figures to Maldives, and Ramesh told Indian newspaper The Hindu he was keen to close this gap. "In private investment, we figure nowhere compared to Singapore and Malaysia," he added.

The new agreement will aim to streamline existing provisions to make them more "rules-based and transparent", according to Jaleel, but it will also focus on increasing Indian investment in Maldives.

Areas of potential private investment include healthcare, IT and environmental research, Jaleel said. The ministers also discussed co-operation on areas such as higher education provision, currently unavailable in Maldives, and human resources.

Ramesh reportedly congratulated Maldivian ministers on the country's rapid economic growth rate and discussed ways in which the two countries can work together to sustain growth.

The visit laid the groundwork for longer-term loan provisions to Maldivian companies from the State Bank of India, a measure aimed at tackling poor availability of credit, which Jameel told Minivan News was a "sickness" affecting the Maldivian economy.

Ramesh's visit forms part of a tour to South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries ahead of the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) meeting in March and July's SAARC summit in Sri Lanka.

SAFTA was set up in 2004 to ensure a gradual reduction of trade tariffs between South Asian countries, and came into force in 2006. Ramesh's tour aims to facilitate the reduction of non-tariff barriers to trade with India as part of the movement towards free trade in the region.

The Maldives Foreign Ministry said that the Indo-Maldives Joint Commission for Economic and Technical Cooperation would meet shortly.



UNICEF notes that Maldives has achieved the Millennium Development Goal on reducing Child Mortality

31 Jan:  The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) launched 'The State of the World's Children Report 2008' today. The Function was held at the UN Building in Malé.

The 2008 edition of the flagship report focuses on child survival and highlights strategies that can help reduce the number of children who die before reaching their fifth birthday.

According to new survey figures released by UNICEF in 2007, under-five mortality has fallen below 10 million per year globally. UNICEF Representative in the Maldives Mr. Ken Maskall, whilst speaking about the Report, said that "child mortality rates speak volumes about a country's development in general and its priorities and values. We are pleased to see that the Maldives has already achieved the Millennium Development Goals on reducing child mortality."

The Report provides a wide-ranging assessment of the current state of the child survival and primary health care for mothers, newborns and children. These issues lie at the heart of human progress, serving as sensitive barometers of a country's development and wellbeing and as telling evidence of its priorities and values. Investing in the health of child and their mothers is not only human rights imperative, it is also a sound economic decision and one of the surest ways for a country to set its course towards a better future.

The 2008 Report was launched by Honorable Mr. Ilyas Ibrahim, Minister of Health. Speaking at the function today, Minister Ibrahim said that the Maldives' success in reducing under-five mortality has been achieved through continued high investment for health annually, with focus on children and mothers, particularly in the atolls and isolated islands of the country by application of primary health care approach." He also noted the Government's commitment to continue to invest in evidence-based strategies to sustain this success and target challenging areas of nutrition and newborn care in the coming years, together with the partners in health development in the country.

H. E. Mr. Mohamed Shareef, Ambassador at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs represented the Minister of Foreign Affairs at today's function.


Manik to Be Appointed As Ambassador


2 Feb:  Mohamed Manik, Managing Director of State Trading Organization (STO) will be appointed as Maldives Ambassador to the US.
Discussions regarding the appointment were held at the Foreign Ministry last Thursday. Manik is said to have accepted the position.
Government appointed many high ranking government officials as Ambassadors towards the end of last year.
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