President Yameen meets with Indian and Pakistani prime minsters

President Abdulla Yameen has met with both Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the 18th SAARC summit in Kathmandu.

Yameen expressed gratitude for India’s continued for support and assistance, and discussed opportunities to increase Indian assistance towards the Maldives health sector.

During his meeting with the Pakistani prime minister, Yameen discussed expanding relations, particularly in the fields of trade, commerce, and human resources. Yameen and Nawaz also exchanged views on making SAARC a more powerful regional bloc.


President Yameen calls on SAARC to make its voice heard

President Abdulla Yameen has called upon the SAARC nations to “walk the talk” and make their voice heard on the international stage.

“As a region, SAARC has the right, and surely has the might, to make it one of the most powerful regions in the world. Yet we continue to be led, rather than lead,” Yameen told the inaugural session of the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu.

“This region accounts for one-quarter of the world’s population, yet as a region we hold limited sway, have limited say and we have not been heard enough, in the power rooms of the world.”

Despite the association’s charter calling for meetings at least once a year, the two-day summit is the first to be convened since 2011, when the Maldives hosted the event in Addu City.

Following the meeting of SAARC leaders at the inauguration of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May – dubbed the ‘mini SAARC summit’ by the Indian media – led to the reactivation  of the meetings.

Since assuming office, Modi has actively pursued regional cooperation, with his ‘neighbourhood first’ policy being applauded by President Yameen today.

“We are inspired, Excellency, by your various initiatives, in this short period of time, towards strengthening regional relationships including the ‘neighbourhood first’ policy. These are steps in the right direction, a signal of the renewed activism with which India is facing SAARC,” said Yameen.

Other initiatives of the Modi government have included a firmer commitment to improving ties within Asia – dubbed the ‘Look East’ policy.

At home, President Yameen has also recently declared a foreign policy shift to the East after accusing “Western colonial powers” of attempting to interfere with the sovereignty of the Maldives.

During the same speech on Republic Day (November 11) Yameen noted that the rapidly growing ties with China did not involve “any such compulsion”.

China’s increased involvement in the region appears to have invoked the concern of India, who reacted firmly to rebut suggestions made by the Maldives’ foreign minister this month that India had discussed joining China’s New Silk Road project.

India was also reported to have rebuffed suggestions from Pakistan during this week’s summit to promote China from its current observer status within SAARC.

“As far as we are concerned, we need to first deepen cooperation among Saarc (members) before we try and move horizontally,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told media.

Continuing his speech this morning, President Yameen repeated his view that trade and commerce were the key to peace and prosperity within the region.

“SAARC must attune itself to the realities of the day and seize the opportunities that are presented to us. We must not be left behind.”

Yameen also stated that, despite being one of the regions to be worst affected by climate change, “we continue to be complacent in taking action as a group”.

He pointed out that, as the next chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, the Maldives would expect support from its friends.

“I ask you, should we not demand for what we want? Should we not stand up for what we believe? Dare we not speak up for what is right for our people? Is it not time, Excellencies, that we stand up to receive our share, raise our voice, in the international arena?”

Related to this story

Trade and commerce “magic wand” for achieving SAARC’s goals: President Yameen

President Yameen slams “Western colonial powers,” declares foreign policy shift to East

Maldives accepts India’s leadership role, says President Yameen


Nasheed pays courtesy call on BJP leader

Former President Mohamed Nasheed paid a courtesy call to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Leader Vijay Jolly in New Delhi yesterday (August 6), reports One India News.

“The rise of radical Muslim fundamentalism in Maldives, its serious implications on peace and security in our region, the involvement of Maldivian militants in the Mumbai terror attack of Nov 26, 2008, killing 164 people and wounding 308 civilians, and the Maldivian military trained ‘dropouts’ found fighting in Syria for ISIS were discussed at length,” read a statement from Jolly’s office.

Former Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem was also present at the 45-minute meeting, according to the BJP statement .

Nasheed, the acting president of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), reportedly praised Prime Minister Narenda Modi and expressed admiration for his style of governance.

The leader of the Maldivian opposition also conveyed greetings to BJP’s newly-elected President Amit Shah.

The statement added that an agreement was reached to establish a party-to-party relationship between the BJP and the MDP.

Speaking at an MDP rally in June, Nasheed had said that the “biggest relief” the Indian government could offer the Maldives over compensation owed to Indian infrastructure giant GMR for the premature termination of its airport development deal was assistance in changing the government.


Maldives accepts India’s leadership role, says President Yameen

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.

Maldives’ long standing bilateral relations with India were strained following the controversial power transfer of February 2012  and President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s assumption of power, particularly following the premature cancellation of Indian Infrastructure company GMR’s $511 million airport project in 2012.
While President Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) formed part Waheed’s national unity government, since taking office in November 2013, he  has made the strengthening of Maldivian-Indian ties a priority.

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.


President to attend Indian prime minister’s investiture ceremony

President Abdulla Yameen has accepted new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to attend his investiture ceremony to be held in New Delhi.

In addition to President Yameen, Modi has invited all other leaders of SAARC countries to attend the ceremony which is scheduled to take place on May 26.

Yameen has made the enhancement of ties between the Maldives and India a priority since coming to office, with his first official state visit seeing him visit the Indian capital in January.