Modi to skip Maldives, focus on Lanka

Modi to skip Maldives, focus on Lanka

Political turmoil in the Maldives prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to drop Male from the itinerary of his forthcoming visit to Indian Ocean region.

However, his focus will remain on Sri Lanka, where the new government has of late suspended a Beijing-supported $1.5 billion port city project in Colombo.
Modi will leave on March 10 for a five-day visit to Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka, which is intended to deepen New Delhi’s engagements in the Indian Ocean region and to firm up its bid to counter China’s growing influence.

Though he was expected to visit the Maldives, New Delhi had to drop Male from his itinerary in view of the political crisis in the archipelagic nation following arrest of the country’s former president Mohamed Nasheed.

New Delhi on February 23 conveyed its concern over the arrest of Nasheed and the way he was dragged by the cops after he fell while being taken to the court to stand trial.
He was charged with terrorism for detaining the then Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed three years ago, when he was President of Maldives.India was joined by United States, United Kingdom, United Nations and European Union to convey concerns over the situation in Maldives.  

New Delhi urged all concerned to resolve differences within the constitutional and legal framework of the country. Male, however, reacted strongly, stating that it would not accept any advice from any foreign government.

Sources told Deccan Herald that Maldives was dropped from the itinerary of the Prime Minister’s visit, as Male had cared little to address the concerns of New Delhi.
Modi will start his tour from Seychelles, where he will discuss bilateral issues with President James Alexis Michel on March 11, focusing particularly on strengthening maritime ties and enhancing New Delhi’s development aid.

Modi will attend the National Day ceremony of Mauritius as the Chief Guest on March 12. He will reach Sri Lanka on March 13 and may visit Anuradhapura and Jaffna in addition to Colombo.

Just ahead of Modi’s visit, the new Sri Lankan government headed by President Maithripala Sirisena put on hold a major port city project in Colombo.
The port city to be developed by companies from China was hurriedly approved by Mahinda Rajapaksa regime.

New Delhi is understood to have positively viewed the decision of Maithripala, more so as it came just days before Modi’s visit.

Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka will end a 28-year-long hiatus in Indian Prime Ministers’ visits to the neighbouring island nation. Rajiv Gandhi was the last to visit Colombo in July 1987.
He and the then Sri Lankan President J R Jayewardene had inked a landmark bilateral agreement to establish peace and normalcy in conflict-hit island nation.
DH News Service

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