New Delhi, Feb 12 IBNS | 9 months ago

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Wednesday welcomed visiting Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Fiji Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and said the country is an important partner for India n the region and in its Look East Policy.

"Fiji is an important partner for India in the region and our Look East Policy. We agreed to continue our excellent cooperation and understanding at political, regional and multilateral levels and expand cooperation in a variety of socio-economic sectors," Khurshid said in a statement.

"We have been happy to share our development experience with Fiji bilaterally and in the framework of South-South Cooperation. Fiji has supported us consistently in international fora. I congratulated Foreign Minister for a commendable job as Chair of G77 + China, in 2013," he said.

Khurshid said India and Fiji share close and cordial relations.

" We agreed that bilateral relations have been growing and people-to-people contacts are developing very well in recent years. Our relations received positive momentum with exchange of visits, including visits by both Prime Minister Bainimarama and President Nailatikau to India. The visit of Foreign Minister is significant in this context. We also welcomed the positive developments initiated by the Fiji authorities for the population of Indian origin in recent times," Khurshid said.

He said both the nations have agreed to enhance cooperation in the area of agriculture.

"We agreed to enhance cooperation in the area of agriculture, especially in the sugar sector. The upgradation programme provided by India has helped to increase sugar yield, strengthen capacity building and promote technology transfer. I am glad to that we are embarking on a second LOC for sugar sector and are also considering cooperation on a co-generation project in the sector," he said.

Khurshid said there has been progress on cooperation between the two nations in connection with the health sector.

"I am happy that there has been substantial progress on cooperation in the health sector. We had provided assistance in form of medical equipment and ambulances. Ministry of Health of Fiji has entered into a Public Private Partnership with Sahyadri Hospital, Pune for providing tertiary healthcare at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWM) in Suva. Apollo Hospitals have set up a tele-medicine centre at the College of Medicine at the Fiji National University. A number of Fijian students are studying medicine in India. We also see the prospect of Fiji emerging as a regional hub for generic medicines sourced from India to provide affordable healthcare," he said.

Speaking on cultural exchanges between India and Fiji, he said: "Cultural exchanges between India and Fiji have been growing in recent years. The Indian Cultural Centre in Fiji was the first Centre opened by ICCR abroad, more than 40 years ago. We are happy to see that several film makers have been travelling to Fiji for shooting their films. "

Following is the full text of External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid's media statement during the visit of Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Fiji to India:

"Your Excellency Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Fiji; Ladies and Gentlemen of the media.

I am delighted to welcome his Excellency Foreign Minister Kubuabola on his first visit to India as Foreign Minister of Fiji. Foreign Minister and I have had substantive and fruitful discussions on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of interest.

I would like to congratulate the Foreign Minister on Fiji's adoption of a new Constitution and convey best wishes to the people of Fiji as they prepare for the elections this year. India supports the democratic process in Fiji. We shall be providing Fiji with indelible ink for the elections, vehicles for the Election Commission and training of election and parliamentary officials as our contribution towards Fiji's march towards a democratic polity.

India and Fiji share close and cordial relations. We agreed that bilateral relations have been growing and people-to-people contacts are developing very well in recent years. Our relations received positive momentum with exchange of visits, including visits by both Prime Minister Bainimarama and President Nailatikau to India. The visit of Foreign Minister is significant in this context. We also welcomed the positive developments initiated by the Fiji authorities for the population of Indian origin in recent times.

Fiji is an important partner for India in the region and our Look East Policy. We agreed to continue our excellent cooperation and understanding at political, regional and multilateral levels and expand cooperation in a variety of socio-economic sectors. We have been happy to share our development experience with Fiji bilaterally and in the framework of South-South Cooperation. Fiji has supported us consistently in international fora. I congratulated Foreign Minister for a commendable job as Chair of G77 + China, in 2013.

We agreed to enhance cooperation in the area of agriculture, especially in the sugar sector. The upgradation programme provided by India has helped to increase sugar yield, strengthen capacity building and promote technology transfer. I am glad to that we are embarking on a second LOC for sugar sector and are also considering cooperation on a co-generation project in the sector.

I am happy that there has been substantial progress on cooperation in the health sector. We had provided assistance in form of medical equipment and ambulances. Ministry of Health of Fiji has entered into a Public Private Partnership with Sahyadri Hospital, Pune for providing tertiary healthcare at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWM) in Suva. Apollo Hospitals have set up a tele-medicine centre at the College of Medicine at the Fiji National University. A number of Fijian students are studying medicine in India. We also see the prospect of Fiji emerging as a regional hub for generic medicines sourced from India to provide affordable healthcare.

I am happy that ICCR has stepped up the annual intake of Fiji students for higher studies under its Scholarship Program to 30, from 25, besides private students. All the three universities in Fiji have MoUs and other arrangements with various institutions in India. We hope these academic linkages will expand further.

Cultural exchanges between India and Fiji have been growing in recent years. The Indian Cultural Centre in Fiji was the first Centre opened by ICCR abroad, more than 40 years ago. We are happy to see that several film makers have been travelling to Fiji for shooting their films.

I wish to convey my appreciation to the Government of Fiji for providing assistance during the visit of two ships from India for monitoring from the Pacific the launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission in November 2013.

The Foreign Minister and I have also discussed the allocation of a plot of land for the Fiji High Commission in New Delhi and a plot of land for the Indian High Commission and the Indian Cultural Centre in Suva. We have also agreed to step up cooperation on training of diplomats.

You have witnessed the signing today of three MOUs on Development Cooperation, Water Resource Management and Standards. The India-Fiji DTAA was signed earlier this month during the visit of Fiji's Attorney-General. Besides, agreements/MoUs are under consideration including in Agriculture Cooperation, Coconut Industry, Training of Police Personnel and others and these will further deepen our bilateral cooperation. We look forward to further strengthening of our multi-faceted relations with Fiji."

(Posted on 13-02-2014)

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