Modi announces visa on arrival for 14 Pacific Island countries

Suva : India Wednesday proposed a slew of measures to foster closer cooperation with the 14 Pacific island-nations, including visa on arrival for all and an e-network to connect the islands to provide tele-medicine and tele-education.

Addressing the first Pacific Island Leaders Meeting here, Modi said, “India wishes to be a close partner of the Pacific Islands”.

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He announced setting up of a Special Adaptation Fund of $1 million to provide technical assistance and training for capacity building to the Pacific Island nations.

He announced Visa on Arrival for nationals of all Pacific island-countries – Cook Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Nauru, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Niue, Palau, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

He proposed an e-network to connect the island nations, given the distances between the islands and poor connectivity.

He said “in keeping with the success achieved in the pan-Africa Project, we propose to develop Pan Pacific Islands Project for tele-medicine and tele-education”.

“We are also working on a solar energy project with the Pacific islands at the community level. The regional hubs will be developed in the Pacific islands,” he said.

Modi announced a hike in the grant-in-aid to Pacific island-countries from $125,000 to $200,000 each annually for community projects selected by them.

He also announced establishment of trade office of the Pacific island-nations in New Delhi to foster trade and to provide complimentary space to the countries during exhibitions organised by the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) to showcase their products.

“We need to find complementarities in our trade. India could be important source of low-cost medicines. We can do joint research in traditional medicine. Explore options of developing healthcare facilities for the benefit of people in the region,” he said.

Modi also proposed to provide training to diplomats from Pacific island-countries to be held in India, and to begin a Distinguished Visitors Programme under which seminars would be held to explore new ideas for strengthening economic cooperation.

Modi proposed cooperation in space technology applications.

“We can look at possibilities of sharing data that could be used for monitoring climate change, disaster risk reduction and management, resource management,” he said.

He also proposed that a Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) be held on a regular basis and that the next meeting could be held in 2015 in a coastal location in India.