Suva | India’s Pacific Ocean outreach gained traction today with the announcement of a slew of Lines of Credit and development assistance totalling USD 80 million for Fiji and a visa on arrival for all the 14 island countries in the region during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit here.
Modi, who held talks with his Fijian counterpart Frank Bainimirama, also announced a USD one million Special Adaptation Fund for the Pacific nations and a proposal to develop Pan Pacific Islands Project for tele-medicine and tele-education.
His trip is the first by an Indian premier to Fiji in 33 years after Indira Gandhi in 1981. India and Fiji also agreed to expand their security and defence cooperation during Modi’s day-long visit to Fiji, considered as hub in the Pacific Ocean region, as Suva rolled out the red carpet with billboards Vula Modi (Welcome Modi) dotting various traffic intersections.
Modi also utilised his visit to address a meeting of leaders of 12 Pacific Ocean countries, a move considered significant. He also addressed the Fijian National University, the first by a world leader. The other decisions announced at this meeting relate to an increase in Grant-in-Aid to Pacific Island Countries from USD 125,000 annually to USD 200,000 to each Pacific Island country for community projects, complimentary space to Pacific Island countries during exhibitions organised by ITPO to showcase their products and an offer to support the setting up of a Trade Office in New Delhi to promote trade between India and Pacific Island countries.
It is a new day and a new beginning in our relations with Fiji, Modi said at a joint media appearance with Bainimarama at the Prime Minister’s office. Fiji could serve as a hub for stronger Indian engagement with Pacific islands. I see this visit as an opportunity to renew an old relationship and lay the foundation for a strong partnership in the future, he added.
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