India PM Modi arrives for Maldives pres' inauguration

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived on Saturday afternoon to attend the presidential inauguration of the archipelago's new president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Modi's day long visit as the highest ranking visitor at the inauguration at the national football stadium in the capital Male was welcomed at Velana International Airport (VIA) by new parliament speaker and Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim.

Modi's presence signals the end of years of frosty relations because of outgoing Maldives president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's embrace of China, a relationship that had deepened India's anxieties about being encircled by countries leaning towards Beijing.

Maldives was the only South Asian neighbour that Modi has not visited since taking office in 2014.

He dropped the Maldives from a 2015 tour of Indian Ocean countries because of the political situation there with massive anti-government protests and heightened tension that led to the arrest and prosecution of former president Mohamed Nasheed.

Over three hundred foreign dignitaries from forty six countries are expected to attend the official inauguration of the president and the vice president of the Maldives, the country's foreign ministry said Saturday ahead of the swearing in ceremony.

Modi is scheduled to attend the official banquet on Saturday evening before his departure from the archipelago.