Maldives reaches out to India, discusses high-level bilateral meet in bid to undo perceived snub

Source:-Maldives reaches out to India, discusses high-level bilateral meet in bid to undo perceived snub

Amid growing concerns in New Delhi over an open display of hostility against India in the Maldives, Male seems to be finally reaching out to the Indian government. It is currently discussing a high-level bilateral visit from India which it hopes will help calm frayed nerves on both sides.

The modalities of the meeting are being worked out and the visit is expected to take place early next month.

Tensions seemed to have peaked last week after a pro-government newspaper described PM Narendra Modi as anti-Muslim and India as an enemy nation. President Abdulla Yameen has now denied that the editorial reflected his government’s position in any way and called India the country’s “closest friend” and ally.

While the Maldives recently signed an free trade agreement (FTA) with China, Yameen said his government was discussing the same pact with India. Indian officials believe the situation is really not as alarming as is being made out to be.

After the Maldives signed the FTA with China and rushed it through the parliamentary approval process, there were two other instances which were seen as a snub to India.

First, Male suspended three local councillors for having an unauthorised meeting with the Indian ambassador, Akhilesh Mishra, and second, the editorial in the pro-Yameen newspaper which, while describing India as an enemy, called for Male to find a new best friend in China.

In an official statement, though, Yameen reiterated that his administration would never entertain negative sentiments towards India, highlighting that Indian assistance formed an “invaluable contribution to the Maldives” — further adding that the government was currently working towards a free trade agreement between the Maldives and India’.

The statement also mentioned the FTA with China with Yameen saying that it would bring several opportunities to the country. India believes that even as the Maldives continues to court China, it won’t affect the strategically located nation’s ties with India or dilute in any way its officially stated India First policy.

After the China FTA, India had said it expected Male to be sensitive to its concerns. “We should look beyond these developments and we should have diplomatic discussions between the two sides to address any issue between the two countries,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said.

India has also pointed to a tweet by Maldivian foreign minister Mohamed Asim earlier this month in which he had said that relations with India were time-tested and cooperation in several sectors. “We remain committed to further enhancing and strengthening existing ties,” Asim had tweeted.

 

 

 

 

Source:- TNN

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