Foreign minister affirms govt's efforts to restore ties with Qatar, Iran

Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid has stated that the government is working to re-establish diplomatic ties with Qatar and other nations.

The government former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom cut diplomatic ties with Qatar earlier in June 2017, stating that the 'Maldives took the decision because of its firm opposition to activities that encourage terrorism and extremism’.

The previous government also severed diplomatic ties with Iran in 2016, citing that the Maldives believes that the policies that Iranian Government pursues in the Middle East was detrimental to peace and security in the region.

Minister Shahid was summoned to the parliament on Wednesday, where he was asked for an update on the government's progress in re-establishing ties with Qatar.

In response, Minister Shahid said the government is working to re-establish ties with all countries, and assured that the government is meeting with the relevant parties.

"The current administration has to re-establish ties with all countries the previous administration severed ties with. As much as we want to rekindle diplomatic relations, we have to admit that this is a time-consuming process. We are working to restore ties with Qatar and strengthening relations with all countries", said Shahid.

Minister Shahid was also asked regarding the government's efforts in rekindling diplomatic relations with Iran. The Minister affirmed that efforts are underway to re-establish tie with Iran, however, it is not possible for him to state a date on which ties will be officially re-established with both Qatar and Iran, said the minister.

Re-joining the Commonwealth

Minister Shahid was also asked regarding the government's progress in re-joining the Commonwealth.

The 18th parliament of the Maldives gave the green light to re-join the Commonwealth, backing the cabinet's decision to rejoin the commonwealth after former presidents Yameen Abdul Gayyoom withdrew from the organization in 2016.

At Wednesday's parliament sitting, Minister Shahid assured the Maldives will once again be a member of commonwealth by June 2020, ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting scheduled to be held in Kigali, Rwanda.

Shahid said rejoining the Commonwealth will once again open up scholarship opportunities for Maldivian students as well as international sports opportunities for the youth. The Minister also highlighted the benefits of parliament members joining the commonwealth's parliamentary association.

Maldives left the Commonwealth on 13th October 2016, citing that the Commonwealth "sought to become an active participant in the domestic political discourse in the Maldives, which is contrary to the principles of the charters of the UN and the Commonwealth". It is a presidential pledge of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to rejoin the Commonwealth.