Singh tells Maldives PM to settle GMR row

New Delhi inks 2 MoUs with Male

Singh tells Maldives PM to settle GMR row

India and the Maldives on Thursday agreed to amicably settle the row over the decision of the archipelagic nation’s government to annul its contract with the GMR Group for management of Male International Airport.

“I requested President Yameen to amicably settle the issue of Male International Airport and address the problems that some of our investors are facing (in Maldives),” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said after a meeting with the new President of Maldives, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, who is currently on his maiden tour to India after taking over the top office in Male.

After Singh’s meeting with Yameen, New Delhi and Male inked two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) – one for cooperation in health sector and another for allotment of a plot in New Delhi for the construction of the chancery of the High Commission of India.

They also exchanged letters for extending the MoU on manpower requirements of the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Male.

The bilateral relation between India and Maldives suffered a jolt last year after Yameen’s predecessor Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik’s Government annulled the contract awarded to the GMR Male International Airport Limited – a joint venture of the GMR Infrastructure of India and Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad or MAHB – for managing the Ibrahim Nassir International Airport in Male.

An arbitration proceeding over the dispute between the Maldivian Government and GMIAL is now going on at a designated tribunal in Singapore.

But Yameen, who took the top office in the tiny island nation on November 17 last, hinted that his government was trying to find out a way to resolve the dispute out of court.

“There is nothing that cannot be sorted out through dialogue. So we are very keen to have a dialogue with GMR. As we speak, GMR is speaking with our officials to have a settlement out of court and not through arbitration. So hopefully, we will have mutually amicable solution,” Yameen said, while addressing a business meet in New Delhi to seek Indian investment to the Maldives.

India had strongly reacted to the Maldivian Government’s move to scrap the contract with GMIAL, which came about nine months after Waheed replaced the archipelagic nation’s first democratically elected president Mohamed Nasheed.

New Delhi had even warned Male that such a move against an Indian infrastructure company could hit the bilateral ties.

After his meeting with visiting Maldivian President on Thursday, Prime Minister announced that New Delhi would extend a standby credit facility of $ 25 million to Maldives for imports from India. “We have also agreed to meet the requirements of petroleum products in Maldives and have asked our agencies to work out the best possible terms and arrangements,” said Singh.

New Delhi also agreed to continue to further develop development partnership between India and Maldives, including in areas such as education and health.

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