Diplomacy Politics

Modi to visit Maldives at “a suitable time”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the Maldives “at a suitable time”, officials said Thursday, amid suggestions that diplomatic ties had become strained.

Relations between the two countries have been in the spotlight since the Maldives signed a massive free trade agreement with China, apparently catching India off guard.

An invitation to visit the Maldives was extended to Modi during Foreign Minister Dr Mohamed Asim’s trip to India.

The Maldives Foreign Ministry said Asim expressed gratitude for India’s contribution to the country’s development.

“Prime Minister Modi assured that the Maldives has, and will always remain, a close friend of India. Further, the Prime Minister assured that India would extend its support in all areas of cooperation,” a statement said.

Modi’s official website said discussions centered around shared cultural and historical ties and maritime interests.

“Prime Minister affirmed that India would always be a reliable and close neighbour of Maldives supporting it in its progress and security,” a statement said, adding that Modi conveyed his gratitude for the invitation and “agreed to the visit at a suitable time.”

The Maldives is the only South Asian neighbour that Modi has yet to visit since taking office in 2014.

He dropped the Maldives from a 2015 tour of Indian Ocean countries with no explanation.

The cancellation came amid nightly anti-government protests and heightened tension sparked by the arrest and prosecution of former president Mohamed Nasheed.

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