PM to at­tend Mal­dives Prez’s swear­ing-in

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Nation - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­ ■

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi will at­tend swear­ing-in cer­e­mony of Mal­dives pres­i­den­t­elect Ibrahim Mo­hamed Solih as New Delhi looks to re­set ties fol­low­ing the exit of the pro-China gov­ern­ment of Ab­dulla Yameen.

Modi will make his maiden visit to the In­dian Ocean ar­chi­pel­ago on Novem­ber 17.

The In­dian pre­mier had can­celled a visit to the Mal­dives in 2015 af­ter for­mer pres­i­dent Mo­hamed Nasheed, per­ceived as close to New Delhi, was de­tained by Yameen’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. As Yameen forged closer ties with China, his ad­min­is­tra­tion had side­lined In­dia, a tra­di­tional ally of the Mal­dives. “The prime min­is­ter has ac­cepted (Solih’s) in­vi­ta­tion with plea­sure,” ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­istry spokesper­son Raveesh Ku­mar told re­porters Fri­day. “In keep­ing with our ‘neigh­bour­hood first’ pol­icy, In­dia looks for­ward to closely work­ing with the Mal­dives in fur­ther deep­en­ing our part­ner­ship.”

The Mal­dives is of strate­gic im­por­tance to In­dia as it is lo­cated in in­ter­na­tional sea lanes.

Ob­servers said Modi’s visit will serve as an op­por­tu­nity to re­set ties, es­pe­cially af­ter ran­cour wit­nessed ear­lier this year when Yameen ig­nored In­dia’s re­peated calls to end the emer­gency he im­posed on Fe­bru­ary 5.

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