Maldives, Egypt hold second round of bilateral political talks

Assistant Minister for Asian Affairs at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, Ayman Kamel (CL) calls on Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid (CR) on July 17, 2023. (Photo/Foreign Ministry)

Maldives and Egypt have held the second round of bilateral political consultations between the two countries.

The talks, led by Maldivian State Minister for Foreign Affairs Ahmed Khaleel and Assistant Minister for Asian Affairs at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, Ayman Kamel, took place in Male’ on Sunday.

In joint press statement released Monday, the two countries described the talks as “successful consultations, held in a warm and friendly atmosphere”, during which officials from both countries re-affirmed the strong mutual interest on strengthening the existing bilateral relations between both countries.

The discussions focused on deepening the scope of engagement in the fields of economic cooperation and trade, technical exchange, tourism, culture and heritage, health and education, youth and sports, climate change and environmental vulnerabilities, security and counter-terrorism, as well as international issues of mutual interest.

Maldives and Egypt are set to mark the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries next year.

Both countries expressed enthusiasm on celebrating the occasion throughout the year.

Highlighting on the long-standing, close bilateral relations and the increasing people-to-people contacts between the two countries, the Maldives discussed the prospects for opening resident missions in the two respective capitals to step up diplomatic ties.

Taking stock of the full gamut of the Maldives-Egypt relations, the two countries noted the importance of establishing institutional frameworks for the enactment of business councils, parliamentary friendship groups, and friendship societies between the Maldives and Egypt.

Both the Maldives and Egypt acknowledged that such institutional frameworks are crucial in strengthening bilateral business ties, enhancing political collaboration, promoting cultural understanding, fostering diplomatic relations, facilitating networking and mutual recognition between the two countries.

On economic and technical cooperation, both sides noted the benefits of increasing trade and investment, as well as business-to-business interactions. The Maldives requested the assistance of Egypt in the area of education and training specifically tailored to the shipbuilding industry.

On tourism cooperation, the Maldives and Egypt, as two internationally acclaimed tourist destinations, agreed to exchange best practices that enrich the visitor experience and ensuring the development of human resources to meet the demands of the flourishing tourism sector.

On air connectivity, the Maldives highlighted that Egypt is a gateway to Africa and both sides agreed to explore the prospects of establishing direct air connections between the Maldives and Egypt underscoring the economic benefits that would accrue from such an investment.

The Maldives and Egypt discussed enhancing cooperation in consular affairs, including the importance of promoting consular awareness among the citizens of both countries and the designation of consular-related focal points in both countries to coordinate urgent consular matters.

The Maldives thanked Egypt for including the Maldives in the category of countries eligible for visa on arrival to Egypt, increasing people-to-people contact and enhancing commercial ties.

On cooperation in the fields of health and education, the Maldives thanked Egypt for its long-standing, invaluable contribution to the human resources development of the Maldives especially noting the annual scholarships received from the prestigious Al-Azhar University.

The Maldives also conveyed appreciation to Egypt for its contribution to the health sector, welcoming the dedicated services rendered by Egyptian doctors in the Maldives.

The Maldives and Egypt re-affirmed mutual interest to continue to work closely at the multilateral fora, especially at the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), on global issues including climate change and environmental protection, achieving Sustainable Development Goals, maritime security, counter-radicalization and counter-terrorism as well as addressing challenges affecting the Islamic Ummah.

Both sides discussed the importance of ensuring freedom of movement in the Indian Ocean to foster trade, development and connectivity through a rules-based international order, based on trust, mutual respect and inclusivity.

On cooperation in fighting against terrorism, both sides discussed the prospect of holding a conference on the topic of tolerance in Islam and undertaking joint efforts in the fight against terrorism and radicalization.

The Maldives noted with appreciation the assistance provided by Egypt in training Maldivian Imams and in sending Imams to lead the taraweeh’ prayers during the blessed month of Ramadan. Both the Maldives and Egypt emphasized the importance of working together to strengthen and promote Islamic solidarity both bilaterally and at the international arena.

The Maldives and Egypt, expressed their commitment to build on the high-level bilateral meetings and to hold the third round of bilateral political consultations in Cairo in next year.

On the margins of the consultations, the Foreign Service Institute of the Maldivian Foreign Ministry and the Institute for Diplomatic Studies of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of diplomatic training.