Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the leaders of the Caribbean Community and Common Market during the first-ever India-Caricom leaders' summit at the United Nations, with a focus on fighting climate change and increasing India's participation with the grouping.
Modi announced a USD 14-million grant for community development projects in the Caricom and another USD 150 million line of credit for solar, renewable energy and climate- change related projects, a statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs said.
The Caricom grouping has 15 members-states and five associate members.
Caricom countries came together in 1973 to form an economic and political community that works jointly to shape policies for the region and encourages economic growth and trade.
Leaders and representatives from Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago attended the meeting on Wednesday on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly Session.
Modi invited them to join the International Solar Alliance, a grouping of over 122 countries initiated by India, and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.
He also announced the setting up of a regional centre for excellence in information technology in Georgetown, Guyana, and a vocational training centre in Belize by upgrading the existing India-funded centres in these countries.
He expressed his condolences on the destruction caused by hurricane Dorian in the region and the worst-hit island of Bahamas to which India has provided immediate financial assistance of USD 1 million.
Reiterating India's firm commitment to strengthen its political, economic and cultural engagement with Caricom, the prime minister recalled the presence of more than a million-strong Indian diaspora as a vibrant and enduring link of friendship with the Caribbean.
The Indian side expressed support to specialized capacity-building courses, training and deputation of experts. Modi also invited a Caricom parliamentary delegation to visit India.
Caricom leaders welcomed the Indian initiatives to strengthen cooperation and reassured full support from their respective governments. During the meeting, it was decided to set up a joint task force to expeditiously look into areas of cooperation, the MEA statement said.
Just ahead of the India-Caricom leaders' meeting, Modi said it was an important initiative and thanked the 14 leaders of the Caricom group of countries for attending it.
Outlining climate change and increasing India's participation with the Caricom nations as the focus of the meeting, he said he expects the discussion takes into consideration past experiences, present requirements and aspirations of the future.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted a picture of the prime minister with the leaders or representatives of the Caribbean countries attending the meeting.
"Underscoring our historic & warm ties with Caribbean countries, PM @narendramodi is hosting the India-Caricom Leaders' Meeting on the margins of #UNGA. Leaders or the representatives of 14 Caribbean countries attending," Kumar tweeted.
Earlier in the day, Modi had meetings with Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, Boeing Defense, Space & Security CEO Leanne Caret.
Modi had separate meetings with Marriott Hotels President & CEO Arne Sorenson, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Walmart President & CEO Douglas McMillon & Chairman & CEO of Coca Cola James Quincey.
"Showcasing India as an attractive destination for doing business,” Kumar said of the business meeting.
Meets counterparts from Armenia, New Zealand
Prime Minister Modi also held a series of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the 74th United Nations General Assembly, including with his counterparts from Armenia Nikol Pashinyan (below) and New Zealand Jacinda Ardern.
In his meeting with the Armenia PM on Wednesday, Modi stressed on the need to considerably enhance the volume of bilateral trade and investment. He expressed interest of Indian companies to explore opportunities in IT, agro-processing, pharmaceuticals, tourism and other sectors of Armenia, said a ministry of external affairs statement.
The prime minister sought Armenia's support for concluding an expeditious trading arrangement between India and the Eurasian Economic Union (EaEU) of which Armenia is a member. India and the EaEu are set to start negotiations on this soon.
During the meeting, both sides reviewed the bilateral relations between the two countries and expressed satisfaction at their steady growth.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted, "PM @narendramodi met with Armenian PM @NikolPashinyan. Had a fruitful discussion on deepening the age-old relationship between the two countries."
Modi thanked Pashinyan for Armenia's consistent support for India's candidature for the permanent membership of an expanded UN Security Council.
Recalling the historical linkages, Modi and Pashinyan highly valued the goodwill existing between the two peoples which provides a solid basis for their bilateral cooperation.
About 3,000 Indian students study in Armenia. Also, a large number of Armenian candidates benefit from training programmes conducted by India under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme.
Pashinyan briefed Modi on the new initiatives of openness of his government and in that context invited Indian investments in Armenia. Referring to the popularity of Indian culture, films, music and yoga, he called for greater cultural and humanitarian cooperation.
The Armenian PM invited Modi to visit Armenia and the invitation was accepted with gratitude, the MEA statement said.
Speaking to reporters at a briefing, the MEA spokesperson said PM Modi also met New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern and discussed bilateral ties.
Modi's fourth bilateral of the day was with the president of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid.
Modi also had a meeting with his counterpart from Belgium Charles Michel earlier in the day.
They agreed to intensify efforts on early conclusion of negotiations on the bilateral investment and trade agreement and enhance closer cooperation on counter-terrorism, multilateral institutions and migration and mobility.