Male, Sep 4 (IANS) Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar called on Maldives President Ibrahim Mohammed Solih, met his Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid, and also called on former president and current Parliament Speaker Mohammed Nasheed, as India sought to further cement ties with the key strategic Indian Ocean neighbour that has backed its moves on Kashmir.
Jaishankar, who is in Maldives as part of the Indian Ocean Conference, also laid the foundation stone for the Indian Embassy’s Chancery Building in the reclaimed suburb of Hulhumale along with Abdulla Shahid.
“Laying a strong foundation for future India-Maldives ties. With FM @abdulla_shahid at the site of the new Embassy building,” Jaishankar tweeted with a photo of the event.
“Thank President @ibusolih for receiving me. Conveyed PM’s greetings and appreciation for implementing ‘India First’. Assured him of our fullest commitment. Congratulated Maldives on the outstanding organization of #IOC2019,” he tweeted after meeting President Solih.
“Great to catch up with Speaker of Majlis @MohamedNasheed. Always full of ideas and infectious enthusiasm. Will work closely to realise our shared goals,” Jaishankar posted.
Maldives has openly backed India on its move to revoke special status for Jammu and Kashmir, terming it an internal matter.
In a statement, the Maldives said it “considers the decision taken by the Government of India regarding Article 370 of the Indian Constitution as an internal matter”.
“We believe it is the right of every sovereign nation to amend their laws as required,” it has said on August 7.
On September 1, during a South Asian Speaker’s Summit in Male when the Pakistani Deputy Speaker sought to raise the Kashmir issue during the event that was meant to focus on Achieving Sustainable Goals, Speaker of the Majlis Mohammed Nasheed refused to let him proceed.
As Pakistan Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Qasim Khan Suri alleged human rights violations in Kashmir, Nasheed, a friend of India, raised a point of order and did not allow the Pakistani Deputy Speaker to continue on a subject that was not part of the deliberations.
India’s Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha Harivansh Narain Singh gave a fierce rebuttal of the Pakistani lawmaker’s claims.
In July, former president Nasheed had clashed with the Chinese envoy over Male’s “alarming levels” of Chinese debt, which stands at $3.4 billion.
Before President Ibrahim Solih took office in November last year, most of the infrastructure projects had been given to China by the Abdulla Yameen government, leaving the nation in massive debt.
After Yameen’s ouster, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had attended President Solih’s inauguration and said India stands ready to help Maldives tide over its financial problems.
Modi also visited Maldives in June this year – in his first trip to a foreign country after taking over as prime minister for the second term – signalling the close cooperation between the two nations.