Diplomacy Politics

Top India minister Swaraj explains Maldives no-show

India’s external affairs minister has not visited the Maldives despite receiving four letters from the country’s foreign minister, a news conference heard Monday.

Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj told media her Maldivian counterpart Mohamed Asim had asked her to come to Malé and explained why her visit had not taken place.

New Delhi raised some concerns with Asim in January, she said, but she had not visited as there had been no progress. She did not say what the concerns were.

Her revelation comes days after India’s navy chief said that the Maldives’ pivot to China posed a challenge and follows months of regional tension.

“The Maldives is our neighbour,” Swaraj said in a lively question and answer session, “and they themselves have written ‘India First’ in their own foreign policy. You’ll have seen there are ups and downs with whichever government has been in power. But relations have not broken and they can never be broken.”

She also said aid to the Maldives had not declined and that democracy had not been fully restored in the country after the lifting of a controversial and widely condemned state of emergency.

The news conference can be seen here.

The audio cuts after the minister’s first answer about ties with Malé, but the Maldives Independent has verified her comments with Indian media who were at the news conference.

The Maldives is the only South Asian country that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has yet to visit since taking office in 2014.

Asim was snubbed by New Delhi while embarking on a diplomatic charm offensive during the state of emergency, although the Maldives foreign ministry was quick to say it was not a snub and that his visit had been cancelled at the request of the Indian government.

Full details are available at the link below:

Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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