Maldives' newly-elected President, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is in India on his maiden visit abroad. He is scheduled to be in India from December 16-18 and is accompanied by a high-level Maldivian delegation comprising of the ministers for finance, infrastructure, economic development, and foreign affairs.
Solih was received at New Delhi airport by Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri.
Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted photographs of the Maldivian leader’s arrival.
Fortifying close bonds of cooperation and friendship.
President of #Maldives @ibusolih received by MoS @MoHUA_India @HardeepSPuri on arrival in Delhi - his first foreign visit after assuming office & within a month of visit of PM @narendramodi to Maldives.#NeighbourhoodFirst pic.twitter.com/D51xIcoJ20
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) December 16, 2018
Both India and Maldives are looking to reset their ties after the bilateral relationship took a nose dive under previous President Abdulla Yameen’s rule. Yameen tilted towards China and which had raised considerable consternation in India.
President Solih has already said he is looking to strengthen the India-Maldives bilateral relationship. His visit comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the former’s swearing in ceremony in November.
Solih will be accorded a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhawan on December 17. He will then participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Rajghat.
Later that day, the Maldives President is scheduled to meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, before holding delegation-level talks with Prime Minister Modi at the Hyderabad House. Exchange of agreements and press statements will be held after his meeting with Prime Minister Modi.
Among the issues to be discussed will be the possibility of a $1 billion aid package to Maldives to meet its Chinese debt. Maldives owes 70% of its total external debt to China. This aid package reportedly comes with the condition of placing Indian naval troops on Maldivian islands along with not allowing Chinese naval vessels a base in the country.
The Maldivian leader also wants to ensure easy travel between the two countries and hence has proposed a 90-day visa for Maldivians travelling for tourism, business and healthcare to India.
Solih is also scheduled to hold separate meetings with his Indian counterpart President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu at the Rashtrapati Bhawan on the same day.
On December 18 before departing India, Solih who is accompanied by Maldives’ First Lady Fazna Ahmed will visit Agra to see the Taj Mahal. (With ANI inputs)