New Maldivian president Solih arrives in India on Sunday; visa pact on the cards

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaWritten By: Sidhant SibalUpdated: Dec 15, 2018, 04:28 PM IST

File photo: President Solih extends a warm hug to PM Modi. Photograph:(Twitter)

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This will be President Solih's first visit abroad after assuming office and comes exactly a month after PM Modi visited Maldives to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Solih. 

India is all set to roll out the red carpet for the New Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih who will be on a 3-day India visit from Sunday. 

Solih arrives in India at 2 pm on Sunday. The 3-day visit from 16-18th will see the President meeting Indian business leaders, being accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan and address a joint press conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. 

He will also visit Agra during his India visit. 

This will be President Solih's first visit abroad after assuming office and comes exactly a month after PM Modi visited Maldives to attend his swearing-in ceremony. 

Solih took charge as the new President of the Indian Ocean Island country on 17 November and PM Modi was the only head of state invited for the ceremony.

Earlier, speaking to WION on President's visit, Foreign Minister of Maldives Abdulla Shahid said, "President will bring a message of goodwill of returning India-Maldives relation to normalcy. We recognise the long-standing generosity of the Indian government that will be the message, President Solih will bring" 

Shahid also told WION that both countries will sign a visa agreement to ease people to people contact between both the countries. 

"Visa agreement will ease difficulties faced by parents of Maldivian students studying in India & Maldivians who travel to India for medical treatment," he said.

The previous Abdulla Yameen government not only junked the pro-India "India First Policy" but had decreased work permits or visas to Indians impacting people to people contact between the two countries.

Yameen, who was pro-Beijing, had signed a free trade agreement with China and allowed a number of Chinese infrastructure projects to be developed in the island country.

The Maldives has already started to reverse anti-India policies of former President Yameen.

Speaking to WION just a day after being made defence minister Mariya Didi she said two Indian helicopters which Yameen had asked New Delhi to take back the helicopter, will stay in the Maldives. 

"It’s not in our culture to ask neighbours to take back what they give. The helicopters can be put to good use for medical evacuations & for search and rescue," she said.

India also plans to increase infrastructure financing in the South Asian country which is approximately 1000 kilometres away from India's Malabar coast. India already been a leading development partner of Maldives and has established many of the leading institutions of Maldives.

When the tsunami struck the Maldives on December 26, 2004, India was the first country to rush relief and aid to the Maldives.