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Modi proposes Forum for India-Pacific


Nov 20, 2014 07:51:22 AM

Modi proposes Forum for India-Pacific Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has proposed that a Forum for India- Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) be held on a regular basis.

After meeting the leaders of the various Pacific Island nations in Suva during his one-day visit of Fiji yesterday, Modi said given the response he received, India is ready to host the next meeting in one of its coastal locations in 2015.

He said India has always been keen to work closely with Pacific Island Counties (PICs) to advance their development priorities and the meeting gave him a better flavour of their perceptions and priorities.

He also announced a number of measures to strengthen India’s partnership with the PICs.

These include:

1. Setting up of a Special Adaptation Fund of $ 1 million:

• Climate change is a major issue of concern for Pacific Island Countries.

• By setting up this Fund, India would be happy to provide technical assistance and training for capacity building to our Pacific Island Partners.

2. Pan Pacific Islands Project:

• Given the distance between the islands and poor connectivity, e-networks are an effective means for coordination.

• In keeping with the success achieved in the pan-Africa Project, we propose to develop Pan Pacific Islands Project for telemedicine and tele-education.

• We are also working on a solar energy project with the Pacific Islands at the community level. The regional hubs will be developed in the Pacific Islands.

3. Indian Visa on arrival all the fourteen Pacific Island Countries:

• I have noticed the inconvenience in travel due to Visa issues.

• I would wish to provide Visa on Arrival for nationals of all Pacific Island countries, Cook Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, Republic of Nauru, Republic of Kiribati, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Niue, Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

• I am confident that this will facilitate exchanges and promote better understanding between our peoples.

4. Increase in Grant-in-Aid to Pacific Island Countries:

• Currently, we provide Grant in Aid of 125 thousand US Dollars annually to each Pacific Island Country for community projects selected by you.

• I am happy to announce that we are increasing this aid to $ 200,000 annually. This would be rolled over annually.

5. Establish Trade Office in India:

• This has been a long time request from you to promote trade between India and Pacific Island Countries.

• We are ready to support the setting up of a Trade Office at an existing diplomatic representation in New Delhi.

• We shall also provide complimentary space to Pacific Island countries during exhibitions organised by ITPO to showcase your products.

• We need to find complementariness in our trade. India could be important source of low cost medicines.

• We can do joint research in traditional medicine. Explore options of developing healthcare facilities for the benefit of people in the region.

6. Deputation of ITEC experts:

• We will continue to share our experience and expertise with all of you.

• In this context, I propose that we shall depute technical experts to your countries including in the fields of agriculture, healthcare and IT.

7. Training to Diplomats from Pacific Island Countries:

• We shall be happy to expand our efforts for your diplomats.

• In this context, Foreign Service Training Institutes will organise training programmes to the Diplomats of Pacific Island countries. These would be held here and in India.

8. Distinguished Visitors Programme:

• I propose to commence a Distinguished Visitors Programme.

• Under this we can organise seminars and invite friends from the region. This would help to explore new ideas for strengthening our mutually beneficially economic cooperation.

9. Space Cooperation:

• We propose cooperation in use of Space technology applications for improving the quality of life of our people and communications.

• We can look at possibilities of sharing data that could be used for monitoring climate change, disaster risk reduction and management, resource management.

The Prime Minister was officially welcomed at Albert Park before signing a number of Memorandum of Understanding with the Fijian Government and addressing Members of the Parliament.

He then met the leaders of Pacific Island countries and later in the evening, he addressed member of the civil society at the Fiji National University's Nasinu campus before retiring for a state dinner and then flying out of the country around 10pm.

By Reginald Chandar

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