New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met his Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid and discussed the ongoing session of the 76th United Nations General Assembly, as well as, steps to further deepen bilateral relations between the two nations.

"Glad to meet FM of Maldives and UNGA President @abdulla_shahid. Congratulated him on the achievements of his UNGA Presidency. Working together to advance our special relationship. India's Neighbourhood First and Maldives' India First policies complement each other," tweeted Jaishankar.

Shahid, who is also the UNGA chief, is on a visit to India from August 28-29, 2022.

On Sunday, Shahid called on the Vice-President of India Jagdeep Dhankhar who congratulated him on his exemplary leadership of the UN General Assembly, especially in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing international conflicts, read the Ministry of External Affairs press release.

During the meeting, the UNGA chief acknowledged the important role played by India at the United Nations, including at the UN Security Council, where he termed it a "source of pride" for not only South Asia but for all peace-loving democracies.

Acknowledging India's pivotal role during the pandemic recovery phase, Shahid underscored that India had proven to be the 'pharmacy of the world' and assisted several countries in the remotest parts of the world, added the release.

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra had called on Shahid on August 28 and briefed him on India's priorities in the upcoming session of the UNGA, as well as, during India's remaining tenure at the UN Security Council.

Shahid's visit further strengthens India's multifaceted partnership with the Maldives, which occupies a central place in India's "Neighbourhood First" policy.

Shahid on Monday lauded Indian assistance to the Maldives during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the "Travel Bubble" which saved the island's economy.

Underscoring India's help in pulling out the tourism industry of the Maldives from a crisis, he said, "Our tourism industry was shut down, no one travelled, but at the height of the pandemic, we were able to reach an understanding with India on 'Travel Bubble', providing for Indian tourists to visit the Maldives. For example, in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, we were able to receive almost half-a-million tourists and that kept our tourism industry moving. Since then our economy is recovering, the pace of recovery is good and our economy is stable."

Many countries around the world, especially small island developing countries like the Maldives during the COVID-19 pandemic went from middle-income country to no-income country overnight when the rest of the world was shut down.

Talking about the special relationship between India and Maldives, the UNGA chief said, "Maldives-India relationship is the highest we have seen in our bilateral history. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in the Maldives for the swearing-in ceremony of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. Later the President also visited Delhi on December 18, the same year. Since then the President and PM Modi have met many, many times," he said to ANI.

"The number of projects that have been going on, agreements that have been signed, number of agreements that have been signed and people-to-people exchanges in the last few years have been outstanding and that is how I would describe the Maldives-India relationship," added Shahid.