Sushma Swaraj reviews bilateral issues with Maldivian counterpart

Sushma Swaraj met her Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid. Photograph:( ANI )

ANI Malé, Maldives Mar 17, 2019, 06.28 PM (IST)

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met her Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid here on Sunday and reviewed important bilateral issues, including implementation of agreed outcomes during President Ibrahim Solih's visit to India last year.

EAM @SushmaSwaraj is welcomed by her Maldivian counterpart @abdulla_shahid @MDVForeign ahead of the bilateral talks and Joint Ministerial Meeting. #IndiaFirstPolicy more intense and vigorous" tweeted Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson (MEA) Raveesh Kumar.

Warm discussions between EAM @SushmaSwaraj & Foreign Minister @abdulla_shahid. Reviewed progress on important bilateral issues, including implementation of agreed outcomes of the State Visit of President @ibusolih to India," Kumar added.

Swaraj, who arrived in Male on Sunday for a two-day visit to the island nation at the invitation of Shahid, is accompanied by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and other senior officials, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

During her visit, Swaraj is slated to participate in delegation-level meetings with the Minister of Defence Mariya Ahmed Didi, Minister of Finance Ibrahim Ameer, Minister of National Planning and Infrastructure Mohamed Aslam, Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Aishath Nahula, Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage Yumna Maumoon, Minister of Environment, Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan, and Minister of Economic Development Fayyaz Ismail.

The ministers will review the entire gamut of bilateral relations and discuss the future programme of action, a statement put out by the MEA said. On March 17, Swaraj is scheduled to call on Speaker of the Parliament Qasim Ibrahim.

On the second day of her visit, she will call on President Solih. Maldives` Minister of Home Affairs Sheikh Imran Abdulla will also meet the Indian External Affairs Minister.

India attaches the highest importance to its relationship with the Maldives which is marked by trust, transparency, mutual understanding, and sensitivity,' the MEA statement said. Swaraj`s visit to the Maldives is aimed at strengthening the "close and friendly relations" between the two nations, after ties between New Delhi and Male came under strain during former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen`s five-year rule, which saw him cosying up with China for various development projects, cracking down on dissent and imposing a state of emergency by jailing opposition leaders.

Moreover, there were several diplomatic issues under the Yameen government with many Indian nationals being reportedly denied visas.

Solih`s surprise victory in the Maldives presidential elections in last September came as a major diplomatic victory for India after New Delhi repeatedly warned the Yameen government to respect democratic institutions and free the jailed opposition leaders.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited the island nation for Solih`s swearing-in ceremony in November last year. During the visit, Solih briefed the Prime Minister about Maldives` fragile economic situation.

The two leaders discussed ways in which India can continue development partnership in various sectors, particularly to help the new government in meeting its pledges to the people of the Maldives.

During Solih's visit to India in December last year, New Delhi announced financial assistance of $1.4 billion to Male in the form of budgetary support, currency swap and concessional lines of credit to fulfil the socio-economic development programmes of the island nation.

Story highlights

Swaraj, who arrived in Male on Sunday for a two-day visit to the island nation at the invitation of Shahid, is accompanied by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and other senior officials, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).