Atul Keshap, the new ambassador of the United States of America to the Maldives, presented his credentials to President Abdulla Yameen this morning.
Keshap is in the Maldives on his first visit since his appointment to the post. The 44-year-old Indian-American was sworn in on August 12.
After presenting his credentials during a ceremony held at the president’s office, Keshap held a brief meeting with President Yameen and Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon.
According to the president’s office, the pair discussed ways to “further strengthen ties between the Maldives and America, especially in the area of education.”
“At the meeting, the president and the American ambassador held discussions on issues of mutual interest encompassing global terrorism, human rights and environmental problems. The president and the ambassador also spoke on ways to tackle the challenges being faced in these areas,” the president’s office said.
Keshap had previously visited the Maldives and Sri Lanka on several occasions as the deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs.
The new ambassador’s visit comes amid heightened tension in the Maldives. The political crisis triggered by the jailing of former President Mohamed Nasheed has been deepened by an explosion on Yameen’s speedboat on September 28. The government says the blast was an assassination attempt.
Two other ambassadors meanwhile presented their credentials to Yameen last week, including Ambassador of Mexico, Melba Pria, and Ambassador of Italy Paolo Andrea Bartorelli, followed by brief meetings with the president.
All three diplomats expressed “deep concern” over the blast. Yameen escaped unhurt, but First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim remains hospitalised with spine injuries.
The former president was convicted of terrorism in March and sentenced to 13 years in jail. He was found guilty of ordering the arrest of a judge during his tenure.
A top UN human rights panel has ruled Nasheed’s detention arbitrary, but the government says the Supreme Court will decide on his release.
President Yameen has repeatedly slammed alleged foreign interference in domestic affairs, declaring last month that he would not bow to foreign pressure to release Nasheed.
In early September, the government hired Washington’s most prominent lobbyist firm, Podesta Group, for a sum of US$300,000 to advocate on its behalf amidst calls for targeted sanctions on government officials for alleged human rights violations.