Published: Sun, November 18, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

CBK in the Maldives for oath taking of new President

CBK in the Maldives for oath taking of new President

Prime minister Narendra Modi rounded off his neighbourhood visits with a maiden visit to the Maldives on Saturday to attend the swearing in of Ibrahim Solih, who defeated Abdulla Yameen in the presidential elections in September. He also sat between the two former presidents throughout, and when the ceremony ended, President Solih also hugged PM Modi. He added that pension funds will be provided to the Haj pilgrims.

They expressed their commitment to increased cooperation in combating terrorism in the region and elsewhere.Solih, the joint statement said, briefed Modi on the "dire economic situation facing the country as he takes office" and the two leaders discussed ways in which India can continue its development partnership, especially to help the new government in meeting its pledges to the people of the Maldives. Both leaders had agreed on the importance of maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean and being mindful to each other's concerns as well as aspirations. Solih has to make a balance between the ties with India and China and fight a battle widespread corruption and rising Islamist extremism.

Maldives is interestingly the only SAARC country that Modi has not yet visited since taking over in 2014.

Modi was the senior-most foreign leader to attend the ceremony in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation that went through enormous political turmoil under former President Abdulla Yameen. "The fact that Prime Minister Modi has agreed to attend the swearing-in sends a message that India supports the new government".

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This is Modi's first visit to the Maldives and the first prime ministerial visit from India to that country since 2011. He is the seventh president of the Maldives and the third to be elected under the country's new Constitution. However, Mohamed Nasheed has promised his party would reduce reliance on China and renegotiate millions of dollars in loans taken from Beijing. He also conveyed India's readiness to extend help in every possible way and suggested that both sides meet at the earliest to work out details as per Maldives' requirements.

Noting that President Solih briefed PM Modi on the dire economic situation the country is now in, the President's Office detailed discussion held about ways in which the neighboring country can continue to development partnership with the Maldives particularly to help Solih's government to fulfill its pledges to the citizens, with President Solih having highlighted the pressing need for an increase of housing and infrastructure development, more over for the establishment of water and sewerage systems in outlying atolls.

China has said it hoped there would be continuity in policies during Solih's presidency and it would create good conditions for Chinese firms. The minister of foreign affairs of Maldives will also be visiting India on November 26 to hold further discussions and to prepare for President Solih's impending visit.

On arrival in the Maldivian capital, the PM was given a red carpet welcome and was received by Maldives Parliament Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed. Modi also interacted with leaders from the Maldives and other parts of the world.

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