Prime Minister Bainimarama, Distinguished members of the media
I feel really privileged to have the opportunity to visit Fiji. I am delighted that this moment has come so early in my tenure.It is also soon after a successful parliamentary election in Fiji.
I want to congratulate the people of Fiji on a remarkable election and you, Mr. Prime Minister, for your victory.
From the time we arrived, I have been charmed and moved by Fiji`s beauty and your extraordinary welcome.
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.
We face many common global challenges. We have shared interests in peace and cooperation in our inter-linked ocean regions.
Our bilateral relations and international partnership has been strong. But, we are also aware that the relationship has at times been adrift; and that our cooperation should be much stronger than it is.So, I see this visit as an opportunity to renew an old relationship and lay the foundation for a strong partnership in the future.
Prime Minister and I had very productive talks. I complimented him for seeking to build an inclusive Fijian nation, which guarantees rights, and provides a life of opportunity and dignity, to all its citizens.I thanked him for including India in his priorities and for his leadership in promoting India-Fiji ties.
We agreed to consult more closely on international issues of mutual interest, including international trade, climate change, United Nations Peacekeeping and UN reforms.
Fiji could serve as a hub for stronger Indian engagement with Pacific Islands.
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.
In addition to traditional areas of economic cooperation, we look forward to closer engagement in areas like information technology and Space applications.
India will remain a committed development partner for Fiji. I thanked him for his support on India`s new assistance projects in Fiji. These include:
• a Parliament Library;
• A fund of five million US dollar to promote small business and village enterprises in Fiji.
• A line of credit of 70 million US dollars for a co-generation power plant.
• And, doubling the scholarships and training slots in India for Fiji.
We will do more in other areas such as tourism and cultural exchanges. I am happy to announce Visa on arrival for Fijians.
India and Fiji feel the impact of climate change.
We are also prepared to increase cooperation in renewable energy, especially solar and wind energy, and in building capacity to adapt to climate change.
In addition, we could share our experience and expertise in disaster management and response.
Let me also thank you, Prime Minister, for providing a great platform for the first ever interaction between India and Pacific Islands.
I want to offer to convey a special word of gratitude from the people of India for hosting Indian scientists for tracking India`s Mars Mission earlier this year. Together we made history.
I am confident that this visit, especially my meeting with Prime Minister Bainimarama, will mark the start of a new era India-Fiji relations.
I am looking forward to the rest of my day here, including the honour of addressing the Parliament.