India, Maldives on same page; future of ties 'bright': Former President Mohamed Nasheed

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 14, 2019, 09.12 AM(IST) Edited By: Abhilash Mahajan

Maldives' former president Mohamed Nasheed (File photo) Photograph:( Reuters )

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The former president said that he would consider the relations between both the countries 'bad' only when Maldivians stop 'watching Bollywood movies and eating gulab jamuns'. 

Maldives Parliament Speaker and former president Mohamed Nasheed said on Saturday that the governments of India and Maldives are "on the same page" and the future of their ties is "bright". 

The speaker is on a five-day visit to India on the joint invitation of Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha (Lower House) Speaker Om Birla. 

"India has been next to us since time immemorial. We read the same book. We eat the same food. We watch the same films we do the same things. We are the same people," Nasheed said. 

The former president further said that he would consider the relations between both the countries "bad" only when Maldivians stop "watching Bollywood movies and eating gulab jamuns". 

"But that`s not happening any time soon," Nasheed said. 

Nasheed is leading the parliamentary delegation from the Maldives who is on a visit to India. 

The Maldivian speaker also criticised China for lending a hefty amount of funds to the Maldives at "inflated prices" in the last 6-7 years, adding that the debt created by it is unequal and the country can't pay the debt. 

"When you are unable to pay debt, they ask for equity and with equity we very often relinquish land and sovereignty. It's a serious case. There is a pattern for this. We're worried and want Chinese authorities to address the issue appropriately, the speaker added. 

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On Friday, the speaker met PM Narendra Modi and thanked him for his continued support for stronger India-Maldives ties since the formation of the new government in the Maldives.

PM Modi welcomed the Maldivian speaker and said that the "engagement between the two parliaments is a key component of the vibrant India-Maldives relationship". PM Modi added that this visit will help consolidate bridges of friendship between the two nations. 

Nasheed also reaffirmed his "unwavering support" to the Maldives "India First" policy. 

(with ANI inputs)