Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has accepted an invitation to attend the swearing-in ceremony of president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on November 17.
“Prime Minister has accepted the invitation with pleasure. In keeping with her Neighborhood First policy, India looks forward to closely working with Maldives in further deepening our partnership,” Shri Raveesh Kuma, spokesman at the Indian external affairs ministry, told the press Friday.
It would not be a bilateral visit and Modi will return to New Delhi on the same night, he added.
An advance team from the Indian government arrived last Monday to prepare for Modi’s first official visit, The Wire reported.
The Maldives is the only South Asian country Modi has not visited since assuming office. He dropped Malé from an Indian Ocean tour in March 2015 following the arrest and prosecution of former president Mohamed Nasheed.
India-Maldives relations were strained under the outgoing administration of President Abdulla Yameen – who forged a partnership with regional rival China – and nosedived after New Delhi expressed “deep dismay” about a state of emergency in February.
During the campaign, Solih pledged to repair relations with neighbours and traditional allies.
The inauguration ceremony is due to take place at the national stadium in Malé. The oath of office will be administered by the chief justice at a special sitting of the People’s Majlis.
Previous plans to keep the ceremony open to the public was scrapped due to security concerns as several foreign dignitaries are expected to attend.
Ahead of his maiden visit to the Maldives, Modi will travel to Singapore for the 13th East Asia Summit and Associated meetings next week.