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PM Modi Attends Maldives President Solih's Swearing-in, Invites Him to India

PM Modi and Ibrahim Mohamed Solih discussed the importance of maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean and agreed to remain mindful of each other's concerns and aspirations.

News18.com

Updated:November 18, 2018, 12:04 AM IST
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Male: Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited new Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to India during the two leaders meeting on Saturday.

Prime Minister Modi, who was on a day-long visit to Maldivies, held productive talks with Solih after attending his swearing-in ceremony. "Prime Minister Modi extended an invitation to President Solih to make a State Visit to India at his earliest convenience. President Solih accepted the invitation with pleasure," Ministry of External Affairs said.

"The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives will make an official visit to India on November 26 to hold further discussions and to prepare for the forthcoming State Visit of President Solih to India," it said in a statement.

During the meeting, President Solih also expressed hope that Prime Minister Modi will make an official visit to the Maldives in the near future, the statement said, adding that Modi "gratefully" accepted the invitation. The Prime Minister also interacted with leaders from the Maldives and other parts of the world during the oath-taking ceremony.

Modi, who was on the first visit to the Maldives as prime minister, was accorded a red carpet welcome. Solih, 54, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party's candidate, surprisingly defeated strongman Abdulla Yameen in the election held on September 23.

The ties between India and the Maldives came under strain under Yameen who was perceived to be close to China. Some decisions by Yameen including imposition of restrictions on work visas for Indians and signing of a new Free Trade Agreement with Beijing also did not go down well with New Delhi.

Relations between India and the Maldives deteriorated further after Yameen imposed emergency on February 5.

India had criticised his decision and asked his government to restore the credibility of the electoral and political process by releasing political prisoners.The emergency lasted for 45 days.

On Saturday, Modi, the highest ranking leader to attend the 54-year-old veteran politician's inauguration as the seventh president, met Solih soon after the ceremony at the national football stadium here and pledged all assistance to the strategically-located country's endeavour to build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous country.

Seated between former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed, Prime Minister Modi embraced both leaders and was seen chatting with them. Former Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumaratunga was also present.

Solih as the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party's candidate had surprisingly defeated strongman Abdulla Yameen in the election held on September 23.

During the meeting, Modi and Solih agreed on the importance of maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean and being mindful of each other's concerns and aspirations for the stability of the region, the joint statement said.

The two leaders, while noting the resilience of the relations between India and the Maldives, expressed confidence in the renewal of the close bonds of cooperation and friendship with the election of Solih as the President of the Maldives. President Solih also briefed Prime Minister Modi on the dire economic situation facing the country as he takes office.

The two leaders discussed ways in which India can continue development partnership, particularly to help the new government in meeting its pledges to the people of the Maldives. President Solih highlighted the pressing need for increased housing and infrastructure development as well as for establishing water and sewerage systems in the outlying islands, the statement said.

Modi said that he is looking forward to working with Solih to strengthen bilateral relations between the two nations.

He assured Solih of India's firm commitment in assisting the Maldives to achieve sustainable social and economic development.

He also conveyed India's readiness to extend help in every possible way and suggested that both sides should meet at the earliest to work out details as per requirements of the Maldives.

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