PM Modi leaves for home after talks with Maldives' new Prez Solih


Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Maldives capital Male on Saturday to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Maldives President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

The Indian prime minister was greeted by Speaker of Parliament Gasim Ibrahim and former MP Abdulla Shahid, who is expected to become foreign minister. Prime Minister Modi accepted the President-elect's invitation, pursuing India's ideal policy of Neighbourhood First.

On Friday, PM Modi took to Twitter to inform that he will be attending the inauguration ceremony of Maldives President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said that it was a "significant day-trip". Modi walked into a meeting with Solih immediately after the ceremony, while he met Nasheed and Gayoom afterwards as well.

Solih, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party's candidate, emerged victorious over Yameen.

Outgoing Maldives President Abdulla Yameen, 59, had been expected to romp home in the September 23 elections, with opposition leaders jailed or exiled, and warnings that he would try to fix the vote, but in a surprise turn of events, 54-year-old united opposition candidate Mr Solih was declared the victor, sparking celebrations across the tropical holiday destination.

According to the statement, President Solih thanked Prime Minister Modi for visiting the Maldives (on Saturday) to participate in the presidential inauguration ceremony while for his part, Mr Modi thanked President Solih for the special gesture of inviting him to the Inauguration Ceremony.

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Prime Minister Modi also welcomed the expanding opportunities for Indian companies to invest in the Maldives in different sectors for the mutual benefit of both countries.

In his first address after being sworn in as seventh President of the country, Solih said Maldives has a rare second chance for democracy pledging to restore constitutional rule and govern without discrimination.

In a series of tweets ahead of the visit, Modi had tweeted, "I will convey to the new Maldivian Government of Mr Solih the desire of the Indian Government to work closely for realisation of their developmental priorities, especially in areas of infrastructure, health care, connectivity & human resource development".

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

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 in line with the requirements of the Maldives. The emergency lasted for 45 days. Solih's aides have said the Chinese debt could be more than $1.5 billion - more than a quarter of the country's annual GDP.

PM Modi landing in the Maldives is a sign that years of cold ties with the Maldives because of Mr Yameen's closeness to China is behind now.

Yameen awarded major infrastructure projects to China while taking away a major airport development from India.


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