Passage for SL vessels through Maldivian waters being considered
By Zacki Jabbar
Visiting Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen with President Mahinda Rajapaksa during yesterday‚Äôs luncheon meeting at the Presidents House in Colombo.They are flanked by the two first ladies Fathimath Ibrahim Didi and Shiranthi Rajapaksa.
With an increasing incidence of sea piracy and drug smuggling, the Maldives and Sri Lanka yesterday entered into an agreement to combat transnational crime, which would involve increased Police cooperation.
Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) on Vocational Training and Skills Development and on Sports Cooperation, were also finalized at the conclusion of bilateral talks between the visiting Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Addressing the media in Colombo, Yameen said that the pact on transnational crime had sent out a clear message that concrete action was essential to deal with the menace of sea piracy and drug smuggling, which had various ways of manifesting itself.
Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon observed that “Maritime security in our region was of utmost importance at this point in time”.
Minister at the Presidents Office, Mohammed Hussain Shariff noted that the agrement on combating transnational crime would strengthen the ongoing trilateral efforts of India, Maldives and Sri Lanka in this regard.
The visiting Head of State revealed that he had agreed to explore the possibility of giving “innocent passage” for Sri Lankan fishing vessels to enter international waters through Maldivian territory.
Maldives was appreciative of the training that Colombo would be providing for its Police Force, he said adding that it would welcome such assistance from any country.
The two sides also agreed to strengthen cooperation in fields such as fisheries, agriculture, trade and banking and finance. Yameen noted that the Joint Economic Commission would pursue action on all agreed areas.
Commenting on a request by the Rajapaksa government that the Mattala Airport be used by the Maldives as a transit point for the import of its food supplies requirements, including fresh fruit and vegetables, he observed that it could be done depending on cost effectiveness.
The Maldivian Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb and the country‚Äôs High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Hussain Shihab were also associated at yesterday‚Äôs briefing.