New Delhi: UNGA President and Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid on Monday described India and the Maldives' longstanding ties as "outstanding" and noted the growing partnership between the two nations amid the signing of numerous key agreements and people-to-people exchanges.

In an exclusive interview to ANI, the Foreign Minister of Maldives, who is on a visit to India, said, "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."

"Maldives-India relationship is the highest we have seen in our bilateral history. PM Modi was in the Maldives for the swearing-in ceremony of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, later the Maldives President also visited Delhi," Shahid added.

Shahid also highlighted that so far Maldives have been able to pay all its debts even in this difficult period of COVID-19 pandemic and with the G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). Many countries have been able to go through it and I hope we will survive, he added.

This was in regards to the DSSI which at the start of the pandemic, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund urged the G20 to set up. Established in May 2020, the DSSI helped countries concentrate their resources on fighting the pandemic and safeguarding the lives and livelihoods of millions of the most vulnerable people.

From May 2020 to December 2021, the initiative suspended USD 12.9 billion in debt-service payments owed by participating countries to their creditors, according to the latest estimates.

Moreover, underscoring that terrorism has no creed or religion and it is pure evil, UNGA President Abdulla Shahid on Monday said that the world must stand united against this evil scourge.

He said, "when it comes to terrorism, we have to agree that terrorism has no religion, no creed, and it is pure evil, this is what terrorism is about. The world should be able to unite against this evil scourge."

He termed India as the world's pharmacy and said that New Delhi has reached not only the neighbouring countries but also as far as Latin America and the Pacific and has shown its human face of compassion.

"India is the world's pharmacist and has reached out to several countries. I have found that India has reached not only the neighbouring countries but also as far as Latin America and the Pacific. India has really shown its human face of compassion."

Calling out for reforms in UN governance, United Nations General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid on Monday said that the Security Council must reflect the reality of geopolitics of the current world order.

"The IG and the inter-governmental negotiating process for the security council reform have been going on for 14 years. Time and time again I have during this one year, called on the member states to hasten this process because the security council has to be reflective of the current geopolitics of the world, it cannot be a thing of the past because if that happens the credibility of the organ itself will continue to fail."

This statement is in resonance with India's call for UN reforms.

At a UNSC briefing on "Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Promote Common Security Through Dialogue and Cooperation", India's Permanent Representative to the UN, Ruchira Kamboj noted, "The most urgent thing therefore for us to do is to make the Security Council more representative of developing countries, so as to reflect current geopolitical realities."

While noting the dynamic leadership of UNGA President and Foreign Minister of Maldives Abdulla Shahid, Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar on Sunday praised his work in revitalizing the UN and added that his visit to India will further bolster the multi-faceted ties with the Maldives.

Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra, on Sunday, called on the United Nations General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid and discussed further deepening of India's relations with the Maldives.

Kwatra congratulated the UNGA President on his 'Presidency of Hope' and for his visionary leadership in the 76th session of the UNGA. Notably, in November, the UNGA president launched the President of the General Assembly's (PGA) Harnessing Opportunities for Promoting Empowerment of Youth Fellowship - the PGA's Fellowship for HOPE.

With the generous support of Member States, the Fellowship seeks to benefit eight young diplomats over the remainder of the 76th session.

Shahid, who arrived in Delhi on Sunday, held a productive visit, meeting and interacted with members of the UN Country Team, to enhance the India-UN relationship.

The UN Country team hosted the UNGA president at the UN House in New Delhi. "Inspiring exchange on his 5 Rays of Hope for unity through turbulence, overcoming Covid and empowering women & youth. Underlined India's leadership role at all levels for Sustainable Development Goals," Kwatra said.

Last year, in his address to the opening of the 76th General Debate, Shahid talked about his five rays of hope.

"Vaccinating the world is my top focus. We simply must close the gap on vaccine access," he said of his first hope. The second is rebuilding sustainably from the pandemic. Third, he promised to address climate change. The fourth hope for his presidency is related to gender issues and the fifth is on uplifting the rights and roles of women globally.