Diplomacy Politics

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Maldives Mohamed Asim counterpart meet

A statement from the Ministry of External Affairs said the discussions centred around strengthening of the development partnership between India and the Maldives and enhancing defence and security cooperation. (File | PTI)

NEW DELHI: Dr Mohamed Asim, Foreign Minister and special envoy of the President of Maldives, met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday and paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A statement from the Ministry of External Affairs said the discussions centred around strengthening of the development partnership between India and the Maldives and enhancing defence and security cooperation.

“External Affairs Minister conveyed our commitment to achieving the full potential of our relationship in line with India’s Neighbourhood First policy. The Special Envoy reaffirmed his Government’s India First policy and emphasised that Maldives attached the highest priority to its ties with India,” it said.

The release had no reference to whether the two discussed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that the Maldives had signed with China in November.

Sources said Asim had reassured Swaraj that the Maldives would never act in any way which would harm Indian interests. India had reacted to the FTA with China by noting, “It is our expectation that as a close and friendly neighbour, Maldives will be sensitive to our concerns in keeping with its India first policy”.

“This is no thaw,” said Ravi Joshi, a retired R&AW officer who served in the Maldives as a diplomat. “Abdulla Ameen has no love lost for India. He has been cosying up to the Chinese for a while.”

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