New Maldives pres to visit India next month

In another significant step towards improved ties between India and Maldives, the two governments on Monday announced that the archipelago's new president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih would make his first state visit to New Delhi next month.

Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj told her visiting Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid that in line with the government of India’s neighbourhood-first policy, India will fully support the government of Maldives in its socio-economic development.

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

Shahid’s visit comes just over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended Solih’s swearing-in ceremony.

The visit is Modi's first to the Maldives after years of tense relations between the two countries because of Solih's predecessor's embrace of China during his tenure.

"The Foreign Ministers agreed that State Visit of President Solih to India will take place on December 17, 2018. In this regard, both Ministers held wide consultations to lay the groundwork for this visit," the statement read.

Immediately after taking the oath of office last week, president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had signaled a change in the archipelago's foreign policy.

"We will endeavour to fortify the existing ties the Maldives has had with India and other regional countries. The Maldives will hereupon bolster its shared role to retain enduring peace and harmony of the Indian Ocean," Solih said.

Solih also said the foreign policy of the Maldives will be fundamentally hinged on advancing policies that have a stake in the progress and welfare of our home.

"My government's foreign policy will be formulated on the basis of human rights, democracy and climate diplomacy," he added.

He said Maldives was open and willing to establish diplomatic relations, and strengthen existing ties with all countries that wish to form mutually beneficial development partnerships.