Male, Nov 17 (IANS) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday attended the swearing-in ceremony of new Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih here.
Modi was the senior-most foreign leader to attend the ceremony in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation that went through immense political turmoil under former President Abdulla Yameen.
Solih, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s candidate, emerged victorious over Yameen. His term is expected to continue until 2023. He is the seventh President of the Maldives and the third to be elected under the country’s new Constitution.
The island nation’s relations with India became strained during Yameen’s rule, with tensions peaking after New Delhi criticised Male’s refusal to enforce a Supreme Court ruling quashing the convictions of nine opposition figures, among them former President Mohamed Nasheed, who had gone into exile.
Nasheed returned to his country following Solih’s election.
During the swearing-in ceremony, Nasheed sat beside Modi and the two were seen chatting animatedly. Former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunge was also sitting along with them.
Under Nasheed, relations between India and the atoll nation had improved greatly.
Former President Yameen was seen as anti-India and pro-China while new President Solih is perceived to be pro-India.
Following his victory in the Maldives presidential election in September, Solih invited Modi to attend his swearing-in ceremony during a telephonic conversation.
Earlier in the day, Modi was accorded a red carpet welcome on his arrival here with the Speaker of the Maldives Parliament, Qasim Ibrahim, receiving him at the airport.