Amid the political volatility in the Indian Ocean island nation, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s visit to India will aim at rejuvenating bilateral ties and expanding cooperation between the two countries, particularly in trade, investment, maritime security and counter-terrorism.
The relations between the two countries had gone adrift in the backdrop of the arrest of former President Mohammed Nasheed and the growing proximity between China and the Maldives. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Male was cancelled last year amid these political developments in the Maldives. The Maldives is the only neighbouring country that Mr Modi hasn’t visited so far.
Mr Yameen is on a two-day visit to India from April 10-11. “A maritime neighbour comes calling! President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom of Maldives arrives on an official visit,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted. Mr Yameen is being accompanied by Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon, Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Mohamed Shainee and three other members from the Maldivian parliament.
In New Delhi, Mr Yameen will meet Mr Modi over lunch on April 11. India and the Maldives are expected to sign pacts in a variety of areas. India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will also meet Mr Yameen on April 11. Mrs Swaraj had visited the Maldives in October 2015 for the India-Maldives joint commission meeting. The meeting was held after 15 years.
The visit of Mr Yameen to India comes at a significant time as China has been enhancing its presence in the Indian Ocean. India had raised concerns about the possibility of China setting up naval bases in the islands of the Maldives. Another major area of concern between the two countries has been the growing presence of terror groups in the region and the radicalisation of youth by these terror groups. There have been many cases reported about youth in the Maldives joining the Islamic State (IS). India and the Maldives are also likely to sign a pact on counter-terror cooperation.
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