Image Source : PTI Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu.

Male: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday extended his warm greetings to Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu on the auspicious occasion of Eid Al-Adha. Notably, the frosty relations between India and the Maldives has witnessed an apparent thaw after Muizzu attended PM Modi’s swearing-in-ceremony to begin his third consecutive term in the Lok Sabha.

“On the auspicious occasion of Eid Al-Adha, Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi extended warm greetings to His Excellency President of Maldives Dr Mohamed Muizzu, the Government and the people of the Republic of Maldives. The Prime Minister in his message emphasised the values of sacrifice, compassion and brotherhood, embodied by this festival, which are essential in building a peaceful and inclusive world,” wrote the Indian embassy in the Maldives in a statement.

The invitation to Muizzu to PM Modi’s oath-taking ceremony assumes significance as it came amid frosty ties between the two countries. Muizzu rode on an ‘India Out’ campaign to become President and has strongly pivoted towards China in terms of defence and trade.

India trip has been a success for Maldives: Muizzu

Earlier, Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu described his first official visit to India as a “success” and hoped that the strong bilateral ties between the two countries would lead to increased prosperity for the Maldivians. “Truly, this trip has been a success for the Maldives! And for the region too! I was delighted to receive the Prime Minister’s invitation, and I am equally delighted to have been able to participate in the swearing-in ceremony. I am also really grateful for being able to hold high-level meetings with the Prime Minister, President and Jaishankar (External Affairs Minister),” he said.

“I am confident that strengthened bilateral relations will further boost aspirations for the Maldives in the future. God willing, the strong ties between the two nations will result in increased prosperity for the Maldives and Maldivians alike,” he further told the state-run PSM Media.

PM Modi was sworn in as prime minister on June 9 for a record consecutive third term. Heads of the states from India’s neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean region attended the ceremony. These included Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Nepal PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and Bhutan’s Tshering Tobgay. Muizzu said he would be honoured to join the event and his first visit to India would demonstrate that bilateral relations between the two countries are heading in a positive direction.

 

After attending the glittering ceremony where PM Modi took oath for the third consecutive time, Muizzu attended a banquet hosted by President Droupadi Murmu, where they also had a meeting in which they discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation between India and the Maldives.

“She expressed confidence that the island nation will continue on the path of prosperity and development under Muizzu’s leadership,” said the Maldivian Foreign Ministry. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also called on Muizzu on Monday, where the former said he was “looking forward to India and Maldives working together closely”. 

India-Maldives relations 

The ties between India and the Maldives came under severe strain since November last year when Muizzu, known for his pro-China leanings, took charge as Maldivian president. Within hours of his oath, he had demanded the withdrawal of Indian military personnel from his country. The Indian military personnel were replaced by civilians earlier this month.

Two helicopters and a Dornier aircraft donated by India have been used for hundreds of medical evacuations and humanitarian missions in the Maldives. According to the agreement with the Maldives, when the military personnel were sent back, India replaced them with civilians to keep the operations of the three aviation platforms going.

Muizzu’s foreign policy is strongly pivoting towards China with Muizzu travelling to Beijing in January and meeting top Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping. His government has also signed a defence agreement with the Chinese military under which the People’s Liberation Army will assist the Maldivian security and defence forces.

(with inputs from agency)

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