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Indian external affairs minister arrives in Maldives

Sushma Swaraj arrived for a two-day official visit.



Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived in the Maldives on Sunday afternoon for a two-day official visit.

She was greeted at the Velana International Airport by Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid. She is accompanied on the visit by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and other senior officials.

Swaraj will hold a joint ministerial meeting with the Maldivian ministers for foreign affairs, defence, health, environment, finance, economic development, national planning and infrastructure, transport and civil aviation, and arts, culture and heritage, according to a statement by the foreign ministry.

A separate meeting is on the schedule with Home Affairs Minister Sheikh Imran Abdulla.

“Both governments will discuss ongoing and future collaboration arrangements, including the implementation of the agreed outcomes of the State Visit to India by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih,” it added.

“In this regard, it is expected that discussions will focus on development cooperation, cooperation in the field of health, and enhancing people-to-people contact.”

The external affairs minister will also call on President Solih and Speaker of Parliament Gasim Ibrahim.

Historically close Indo-Maldives ties were strained under former president Abdulla Yameen, who forged a partnership with China to finance large-scale infrastructure projects. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended his swearing-in ceremony, President Solih’s visit to India in December was hailed as the beginning of a “new era” of stronger relations.

During the maiden state visit, India pledged US$1.4 billion in financial assistance to the new administration. A visa facilitation agreement signed during the trip came into force last week.

“India attaches the highest importance to its relationship with the Maldives which is marked by trust, transparency, mutual understanding and sensitivity,” the external affairs ministry said.

“This visit will further strengthen the close and friendly relations between India and Maldives.”