Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih begins four-day visit to India

Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih began a four-day visit to India on Monday to inject new impetus into the close and expanding strategic partnership between the two countries.

Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan greeted Solih on his arrival at Delhi airport.

The Maldives is one of India’s major maritime neighbors in the Indian Ocean region and the overall bilateral relationship, including in the areas of defense and security, has been on an upward trajectory in recent years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Solih will hold extensive talks on Tuesday following which the two sides are expected to sign a number of agreements.

Solih is also due to meet President Draupadi Murmu.

“A warm welcome to a close friend and maritime neighbour! President @ibusolih of the Maldives arrives in New Delhi for an official visit,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said on Twitter.

“An opportunity to nurture the unshakable friendship between our two countries and to give new impetus to this multi-faceted partnership,” he added.

Apart from official engagements in New Delhi, President Solih will also visit Mumbai and participate in business events.

Last week, the head of the Maldivian Defense Force, Major General Abdulla Shamaal, visited India.

In March, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, during a visit to Male, handed over a coastal radar system to the country. India and the Maldives share common views on maritime security issues in the Indian Ocean and work together to expand defense cooperation.

Development cooperation has been a key pillar of the India-Maldives relationship, with New Delhi providing over $1.2 billion in credit lines for infrastructure and grants for community development projects to the island nation.

In August last year, the island nation secured a contract for the implementation of an Indian-funded connectivity project billed as the largest infrastructure initiative rolled out in the island nation.

Under the Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP), a 6.74 km long bridge and causeway will be constructed to connect the capital Male to the neighboring islands of Villigli, Gulhifalhu and Thilafushi.

Funded under a $100 million grant and a $400 million line of credit from India, it would be the largest infrastructure project in the Maldives. PTI MPB KVK KVK

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