Sushma meets Maldives minister amid strained ties

Ceria Alfonso
Enero 13, 2018

Dr Mohamed Asim, Foreign Minister and special envoy of the President of Maldives, met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday and paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Maldives has assured India that it will adhere to its "India First" policy in terms of its foreign relations during a meeting in New Delhi between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her Maldivian counterpart Mohamed Asim.

The visit comes nearly a month after the Indian Ocean atoll nation of Maldives signed a free trade pact with India's strategic and economic rival China, adding to misgivings in New Delhi about ties between the two countries. Both developments had irked India and prompted Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar to raise India's concerns with the Maldives envoy in Delhi. "Special Envoy Asim reiterated the commitment of Maldives to maintain close relations with India under Maldives India First" policy.

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In the case of the Maldives, the atoll nation had described its foreign policy as giving India primacy, billing it an "India first" policy.

Asim and Modi discussed ties between India and Maldives as close neighbours bound by a shared history, culture and maritime interests in the Indian Ocean. The Indian statement had come in response to a query on Maldives-China free trade agreement (FTA). India had reacted to the FTA with China by noting, "It is our expectation that as a close and friendly neighbour, Maldives will be sensitive to our concerns in keeping with its India first policy". According to official sources here, Asim did not just assure India that Male will do nothing to jeopardise India's security interests but also said in his meetings with both Modi and Swaraj that the Maldives would expedite work on India's developmental projects which the two countries had announced during Yameen's visit to India. Prime Minister conveyed his gratitude for the invitation and agreed to the visit at a suitable time. Asim also invited Modi to Maldives, the only Saarc country which the PM has not visited until now.

His proposed visit to Male was cancelled in March 2015 as the domestic political situation in the island nation was not considered to be conducive for the Prime Minister's visit.

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