WION New Delhi, Delhi, India
Nov 16, 2018, 03.04 PM
PM Modi will be visiting the Maldives on Saturday to take part in the oath-taking ceremony of new president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. He will be leaving Delhi around noon time. The oath-taking ceremony will be taking place at 5 pm local time. Among the foreign leaders present in the oath ceremony, India's representation is amongst the highest level.
Announcing the visit MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had last week said, "Prime Minister has accepted the invitation with pleasure. In keeping with her Neighborhood First policy, India looks forward to closely working with the Maldives in further deepening our partnership. PM will return to New Delhi on the same night"
Welcoming Indian PM's participation, Mariya Didi, Spokesperson of President-elect Solih had tweeted - "Delighted to hear that the Indian PM @narendramodi @PMOIndia has accepted President-Elect @ibusolih’s invitation and will attend the Presidential inauguration. We look forward to a new era of friendship and co-operation with India in the years ahead @PresElectMv @AkhileshIFS"
PM Modi had called Solih after his election victory and congratulated him on his victory in the Presidential elections. Prime Minister Modi also conveyed his "good wishes for the strengthening of democracy, peace and prosperity in the Maldives" under the leadership of Solih.
Experts believe visit by India PM to the Maldives sends a message. A message that India fully backs in new government in the Maldives. Interestingly, Maldives is the only SAARC country that Modi has not visited since taking over in 2014. The 2nd Quad meeting that took place in Singapore this year also discussed the Maldives with statements from Washington, Canberra and Tokyo all calling to support the new govt in the Maldives.
Sigh of relief for Delhi
Since the change in Maldives due to the elections, its a sigh of relief in Delhi because India-Maldives relations under President Yameen had suffered. President Yameen junked "India First" policy and was pro-China. Yameen allowed a number of Chinese Infrastructure projects in the country and gave a go-ahead to Maldives China Free trade agreement.
Under Yameen, people to people ties also suffered from visas and work permit being denied to Indians. Former President Nasheed speaking to WION had slammed Yameen's informal ban on Indians and said, "that will have a negative impact on the Maldives as most of the skilled force come from India".
Indians are the second largest expatriate community in the Maldives with an approximate strength of around 22,000. Of the country’s approximately 400 doctors, over 125 are Indians. Similarly, around 25 per cent of teachers in the Maldives are Indians
Recently Dunya Maumoon, daughter of Abdul Gayoom who was the longest-serving president of Maldives and architect of democracy in the country visited New Delhi.
She met India's external affairs minister during the visit. Speaking to WION during her Delhi visit, she lambasted Yameen and said, "While he brought some development, mostly a lot of people lived in fear and in an environment of a lot of political persecution. Using the court he was able to lock up and convict a lot of innocent people under various charges this included my father who at his age and given his health, it was a difficult time for him personally. My mother, my family. My brother, my brother in law were imprisoned. And many many other political figures with whom he was threatened were put in jail."
China, Japan to send representatives
Both China & Japan are also sending representatives. China will be sending President Xi Jinping's Special Envoy and Minister of Culture and Tourism Luo Shugang who is already in the country.
Japan will be sending the member of the House of Representatives and President of the Japan-Maldives Parliamentary Friendship League, Wataru Takeshita. He is going to Male as Special Envoy of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Experts believe visit by India PM to the Maldives sends a message. A message that India fully backs in new government in the Maldives.