Ni Sa Bula Vina’a and Namaste to you my fellow countrymen.

I am pleased to join the Minister of External Affairs of India, Honourable Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at this joint presser to update you on some of the key outcomes of the bilateral meeting which just, concluded.

Foremost, I would like to extend the Government and the people of Fiji’s heartfelt appreciation to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and the Government of India for their incredible support in co-hosting the 12th World Hindi Conference in Fiji.

I also convey my sincere appreciation to Minister Jaishankar for his first official visit to our shores for the inauguration of the World Hindi Conference and the important deliberations, he will pursue whilst in Fiji.

Pleased to say that this is first high-level visit from the Government of India in almost a decade since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Fiji in 2014.

Honourable Minister, your visit to our shores, symbolizes the warm and long-standing friendly relations, mutual respect, goodwill and strong people to people ties shared between our two nations.

We also share a profound history which, began when the first indentured labourers arrived on our shores in 1879.

The immense contributions of the indentured labourers towards our nation building will be forever cherished. In honour of the many sacrifices made by the Girmityas in Fiji, the People’s Coalition Government has declared a Girmit Day as a national public holiday in Fiji. This is yet another day, where we will get to commemorate the special cultural links we have shared for generations.

I am pleased to say, India will always be a special friend and trusted partner to Fiji. Together we have built a robust multifaceted partnership which covers cooperation in all major areas of nation building including agriculture, education, health, climate change and development of Micro Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) with a special focus on training, capacity building and capability development.

India had stood by us in times of great need. We have worked shoulder to shoulder to overcome the challenges posed by climate crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic.

For this, we are forever grateful to the Government and the people of India for supporting us through the provisions of lifesaving vaccines, humanitarian assistance, among other initiatives in our collective efforts to build back better from the global challenges.

Today’s meeting signifies a landmark achievement in our shared commitment to advance Fiji and India’s cooperation at all levels.

It focused on prospects for greater cooperation in the post pandemic era. There are enormous opportunities for increased collaboration in the shared goals on economic prosperity, climate resilience, peace and security and sustainable development.

I note with enthusiasm the positive discussions we had today to further advance mutual cooperation in the key areas of development, notably in health, education, infrastructure, renewable energy, sugar industry to mention a few.

Fiji also appreciates India’s commitment towards the development of our Pacific region through the collective priorities enshrined in the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. We are more resolved now, than ever, to build a strong and sustainable future for the families in Fiji, Pacific and beyond.

A step toward achieving this goal, will be signing of the Fiji and India will today sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on exemption of Visa requirements for holders of diplomatic and official passport holders.

The MOU represents a milestone achievement in building a stronger connectivity for peoples of both the nations. It will bolster economic opportunities in trade, tourism, business and investment.

On behalf of the Government of Fiji, I thank the Government of India for realisation of this important cooperation. I am confident that we will witness many more of such initiatives unfold through deepened cooperation.

Fiji is keen to host such high level conferences and events like the 12th World Hindi Conference which promotes and celebrates the preservation of Hindi language and culture, in the future.

I take this opportunity also to congratulate India on its successful candidature for the G20 Presidency. This is a grand opportunity for our two nations to work collaboratively to mitigate the global challenges and build a sustainable future for all.

In closing, I once again thank the Government and the people of India for your continued support to Fiji and the Pacific region.

I look forward to welcoming my dear friend, Prime Minister Modi to Fiji, at a time convenient to him.

My best wishes to the Honourable Minister and his delegation as you continue with your deliberations here in Suva. We look forward to welcoming similar high level visits between our two nations in the near future.

May god continue to bless our nations, as we commit to working together for the wellbeing and development of our people!

Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavad!

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