PM Modi's statement prior to his departure to Maldives

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s new government is expected to end political uncertainty in the Maldives that preceded a tense election this September

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday attended the swearing-in ceremony of the newly-elected Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, a step which is seen as an attempt to mend bilateral ties which nosedived under the outgoing Abdulla Yameen government.

Solih, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party's candidate, emerged victorious over Yameen.

"I am confident that my visit will herald a new era of even closer exchanges and cooperation between our two countries", Modi said on Facebook, especially in "infrastructure, health care, connectivity and human resource development".

Upon his arrival at the President's Office, President Solih was greeted by Chairperson of his transition committee and former Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, Adhaalath Party's Vice President Ali Zahir as well as some senior figures of the transition committee. "We will endeavour to fortify existing ties with India, and Maldives will hereupon bolster its shared role to retain enduring peace and harmony of the Indian Ocean", he said.

PM Narendra Modi (right) was seated next to former President Mohamed Nasheed. The smooth transfer of power will mark the restoration of democracy in Maldives as well as a major diplomatic boost for India.

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Modi was the senior-most foreign leader to attend the ceremony in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation that went through vast political turmoil under former President Abdulla Yameen.

Later, PM Modi also extended an invitation to President Solih to make a state visit to India at his earliest convenience.

Both neighbouring India and Western nations watched with concern as Yameen moved closer to Beijing which loaned the strategically placed archipelago millions of dollars for infrastructure.

Solih was sworn in at a special ceremony at the National Football Stadium in the capital Male. "The fact that Prime Minister Modi has agreed to attend the swearing-in sends a message that India supports the new government".

In a joint press statement, the two countries said, "The two leaders discussed ways in which India can continue development partnership, particularly to help the new government in meeting its pledges to the people of the Maldives". The minister of foreign affairs of Maldives will also be visiting India on November 26 to hold further discussions and to prepare for President Solih's impending visit. An ongoing constitutional crisis in Sri Lanka is also said to be linked to India and China's tussle over expansion of their influence in the Indian Ocean region.


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