New Delhi: Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih will make an official visit to India on December 17, the two countries agreed on Monday, with India assuring its support to ensuring Maldives’ “fiscal and budgetary stability” while the Maldives reiterated its “India First” policy and promised to be “sensitive towards India’s security and strategic concerns”.
This was decided on Monday following a meeting between visiting Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj in the Capital.
India assured its tiny south-western maritime neighbour that New Delhi “stands ready to fully support the Government of Maldives in its socio-economic development” and of “support in implementing its development priorities”.
Defence cooperation between the two neighbours — who are now the best of friends once again — was also discussed, with the ministers agreeing “to hold the next meeting of the Defence Cooperation Dialogue between both countries in the first half of December 2018”.
New Delhi also supported Maldives’ decision to rejoin the Commonwealth and “also welcomed Maldives into the Indian Ocean Rim Association as its newest member”.
The Maldivian assurance that it would be sensitive to Indian strategic concerns is a veiled reference to New Delhi’s earlier concerns about the proximity between the Maldives and China during the tenure of the former president Abdulla Yameen when New Delhi’s ties were strained with Male.
It may be recalled that during former president Yameen’s tenure when the Maldives was extremely close to China, Beijing had undertaken several infrastructure projects then in the archipelago nation due to which the Maldives reportedly now owes a huge financial debt to China....