The Seychelles President, Mr. James Michel, welcomed the Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed at State House this afternoon, as part of the first official visit of President Nasheed to the Seychelles islands. President Nasheed will be attending the opening of the Indian Ocean Island Games this week, as well as other sporting events where the Maldivian teams will be playing.
“We are very happy to welcome you in our islands, to develop closer relations and consider the challenges of small islands states together, such as economic development, climate changes, fisheries, tourism, and piracy. We have many commonalities and we share the same ocean, let us see how we can share our experiences and make the most of our resources together,” said President Michel during the meeting.
The two presidents agreed that in order to encourage trade between Seychelles and the Maldives, a shipping line between the island states of the Indian Ocean needs to be developed and that with this economic cooperation and exchange will be enhanced.
“We must do more to improve our regional trade and share our expertise, especially as we are both focused on fisheries and tourism, and in this way develop sustainable solutions to regional challenges,” said President Michel.
The two Heads of State discussed the possibilities improving productivity of the artisanal fisheries industry in Seychelles, through cooperation with the Maldives. Tuna fishing and other fishing activities areas conducted by the majority of the Maldivian population, accounting for the livelihood of 40% of the workforce.
“Our fishing industry is worth about US$500 million a year. We want to see how we will be able to work with Seychelles on improving on its productivity … we will be able to cooperate and collaborate in the fishing industry. It was a privilege to meet the President and to discuss on our similar issues,” said President Nasheed following the meeting.
Piracy was also a topic of discussion, particularly ideas to improve patroling of the Indian Ocean and collaborate in anti-piracy initiatives.
Following the meeting, President Michel and President Nasheed witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Fisheries Cooperation, as well as Protocol on Cooperation to Combat Piracy and Other Maritime Security Threats in the Indian Ocean. The documents were signed by the Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Paul Adam and the Maldivian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Naseem.
The meeting at State House was attended by Seychelles Vice President Danny Faure, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Paul Adam, and the acting Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Jeanette d’Offay.
The Maldivian delegation included the Speaker of the Maldivian Parliament Abdullah Shahid, as well as three Maldivian Ministers – Minister for Foreign Affairs Ahmed Naseem, Minister of Human Resources Youth and Sports Hassan Latheef, and Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture Dr. Mariyam Zulfa.
Also present were the Chairperson of the Maldivian Democratic Party, Moosa Manik, and Parliamentary Group Leader of the Maldivian Democratic Party, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.