Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the Maldives today to attend the inauguration of President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the Indian Ocean archipelago, where no Indian prime minister has gone in the last seven years.
Modi was given a red-carpet welcome and greeted at the airport by Maldives Parliament's new Speaker Qasim Ibrahim. REUTERS/Ashwa FaheemIndia's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Front R) shares a moment with Maldives former President Mohamed Nasheed during the swearing-in ceremony of President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in Male, Maldives November 17, 2018.
Noting that President Solih briefed PM Modi on the dire economic situation the country is now in, the President's Office detailed discussion held about ways in which the neighboring country can continue to development partnership with the Maldives particularly to help Solih's government to fulfill its pledges to the citizens, with President Solih having highlighted the pressing need for an increase of housing and infrastructure development, more over for the establishment of water and sewerage systems in outlying atolls.
"Maldives will hereupon bolster its shared role to retain enduring peace and harmony of the Indian Ocean", External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar quoted him as saying. He is due to meet President Solih before departing Saturday night.
"We were led to believe it's about $1.5 billion, the Chinese debt, but it could be worse", an unidentified member of Solih's top economic team told Reuters, adding that they have already reached out to India, the United States and Saudi Arabia for financial aid in order to deal with the debt.
"I am confident that my visit will herald a new era of even closer exchanges and cooperation between our two countries", Modi said on Facebook, especially in "infrastructure, health care, connectivity and human resource development". "We in India strongly desire to see a stable, democratic, prosperous and peaceful Republic of Maldives".
Yameen administration's hostile attitude towards India had impacted the whole ambit of bilateral relations between the two nations. The press statement emphasized that India would assist Maldives in "every possible way.as per requirements of the Maldives".
The two leaders, while noting the resilience of the relations between India and the Maldives, expressed confidence in the renewal of the close bonds of cooperation and friendship with the election of Solih as the President. India had criticised his decision and asked his government to restore the credibility of the electoral and political process by releasing political prisoners. Its unlikely Solih would be able to remove Chinese influence from the Maldives, because China is engaged in infrastructure projects.