President Abdulla Yameen has said that the Maldives accepts India’s leadership role in the international arena and that this special position would benefit SAARC countries.
Yameen’s words came this morning at a meeting with the newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during which both leaders agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations.
Yameen is in India on a two-day state visit to attend Modi’s inauguration ceremony, held yesterday evening. The Indian prime minister invited leaders from all SAARC countries to the ceremony, holding bilateral talks each of them. Yameen today congratulated Modi and thanked him for the invitation.
According to the President’s Office of Maldives, Modi highlighted in particular the close relations between the two countries under President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s leadership, and expressed his confidence that it could be “restored” in the future.
A focal point of the meeting appeared to be the importance of strengthening the SAARC organisation, with Yameen told Modi that inviting all SAARC leaders to his inauguration – particularly from Pakistan – was a display of the importance with which he is treating the association.
According to the President’s Office, PM Modi told Yameen that making SAARC a powerful organisation in the region should be prioritised over bilateral issue among its countries.
Noting the importance of making SAARC an internationally reputed organisation, Modi said that the group should take initiative in bringing global warming and its negative impact on the environment to global attention, suggesting that SAARC should be expanding the renewable energy industry.
As Yameen thanked India for its continued cooperation with the Maldives, Modi assured he would provide assistance in providing higher education opportunities in India for Maldivian students .
He said the number of Indian tourists visiting the Maldives have been increasing and his government will fully cooperate with initiatives to promote Maldives tourism in India, particularly in regions like Kerala and Gujarat. Indian visitors to the Maldives increased by nearly 20 percent in 2013, while still accounting for only 3.4 percent of total arrivals.
Foreign ministers and high commissioners from both countries were also present at the meeting.
In addition to President Yameen, former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed, as well as Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, have congratulated Modi upon his election victory.
In January 2014, Yameen met the former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in India – his first official trip out of Maldives following his inauguration. Prior to that in December 2013 his Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim visited India and met with senior government officials and reassured bilateral defence cooperation.