Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid has said that the previous administration was looking to purchase a helicopter from Pakistan “through a bank loan”.
Shahid said this in an interview published by India’s ‘Times Now’ on Sunday, where he reiterated that the helicopters gifted by India will remain in the Maldives.
“The helicopters are being used for humanitarian purposes. A total of 164 medical evacuees have been conducted by these helicopters in the last few years. We are also using them for search and rescue, which is an essential feature for an island nation like ours,” said the minister.
Further noting that the former administration was planning to purchase aircraft from Pakistan through a bank loan, Minister Shahid emphasized that the current government has no interest “in buying through a loan”.
Amid reports of deteriorating bilateral relations between both nations, Maldives had in June asked India to take back the two helicopters it had gifted.
Due to the status of bilateral ties, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had rejected Maldives’ invitations for a state visit throughout former President Abdulla Yameen’s term. His first visit to the country, since assuming office in 2014, was to attend incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s swearing-in ceremony on November 17.
While President Solih and PM Modi had met prior to his departure, Minister Shahid- who was present at the meeting- said that he had “sensed a new era dawning”.
“The manner in which discussions were held, with sincerity and warmth. I’m sure that we have launched ourselves into a new era of Maldives, India relationship,” he added.
President Solih’s first state visit will be to India, on December 17.
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Source URL: Google News