Seeking stronger engagement with the Pacific Islands, India on Monday announced a USD 75 million line of credit for Fiji for a co-generation power plant and upgrading the sugar industry and also a USD five million fund to develop its villages even as the two countries agreed to expand their Defence and Security cooperation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who made these announcements after talks with his Fijian counterpart Frank Bainimarama shortly after his arrival, also announced a visa on arrival for Fijians and assistance projects that included a parliament library and doubling the scholarships and training slots in India for people from this country.
The lines of credit were part of three agreements signed between the two countries in the presence of the two leaders.
PM Modi was accorded a ceremonial guard of honour at the airport after which he attended the traditional ceremony of Welcome at Albert Park, close to the Prime Minister’s office and Parliament.
“It is a new day and a new beginning in our relations with Fiji,” Modi said in remarks to the media at a joint 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.
PM Modi also addressed Fijian parliament, the first by a foreign leader, after parliamentary elections, during which he said that India was prepared to work with Fiji to build a “Digital Fiji”.
“I regard Fiji as an important partner for India. We have deep and enduring ties of history and culture. Fiji is an influential voice in the Pacific Region and the developing world, and our partner in multilateral institutions,” Modi said at his joint press interaction.
Reciprocating Modi’s sentiments, Bainimarama said the Indian Prime minister’s visit has laid the groundwork for “productive relationship” between the two countries.
“We are proud to have India as a partner in Fiji’s future,” he said, adding that 15 more bilateral agreements are in the works.
“We will also expand our defence and security cooperation, including assistance in defence training and capacity building. We agreed to identify opportunities to expand our trade and investments and work out a concrete roadmap,” Modi said.
He said that India looks forward to closer engagement in areas like Information Technology and Space applications.
“We are also prepared to increase cooperation in renewable energy, especially solar and wind energy, and in building capacity to adapt to climate change,” he added.