Maldives vows India-first policy

Maldives vows India-first policy

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI photo

Maldives on Monday reiterated its “India First” policy as both India and Maldives moved ahead to reset ties after the new government led by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih took office in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj received Maldives' foreign minister Abdulla Shahid, who is on his maiden visit to New Delhi after taking office.

He reiterated his government’s "India First” policy and said that his government would look forward to working closely with the government of India on all issues, according to a press-release issued by the ministry of external affairs (MEA).

He reaffirmed Maldives’ special, close and friendly relations with India and reiterated that the government of Maldives would be sensitive towards security and strategic concerns of India.

Solih replaced his predecessor Abdulla Yameen, who had led Maldives closer to China and soured its relations with India during his five-year tenure at the helm of the government of the Indian Ocean archipelago.

The new president of Maldives already sought India's support to come out of the debt-trap of China.

He requested Prime Minister Modi for support in building infrastructure in outlying islands of the archipelago.

Sushma and Shahid on Monday announced that the new president of Maldives would visit New Delhi on December 17.

Sushma reiterated that India attached “highest importance” to its relationship with the Maldives which was marked by “trust, transparency, mutual understanding and sensitivity”.

She said that that in line with government of India’s Neighbourhood First policy, India would always stand ready to support the Maldives in its socio-economic development.

India assured the Maldives of support in implementing its development priorities and in ensuring fiscal and budgetary stability.

Sushma and Shahid discussed security and defence matters including ongoing projects and new areas of cooperation.

They agreed to hold the next meeting of the Defence Cooperation Dialogue between the two countries in the first half of December, the MEA stated.

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