Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said he was looking forward to free and fair elections in the Maldives while stressing on the close bilateral relationship.

Dr Singh made the remarks during his meeting with former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed who called on him.

Mr Nasheed is on a three-day visit here, during which he also met External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh.

“The Prime Minister said he looked forward to free and fair elections in Maldives. He stressed on the close relationship with the people of Maldives and emphasised that India would like to see a stable and prosperous Maldives,” official sources said.

Mr Nasheed’s visit comes just about month ahead of the Presidential elections there. Mr Nasheed was forced out of power last year in February and his Vice President Mohammed Waheed became the President.

India has been reaching out to all political parties to ensure the elections are free and fair.

However, the bilateral relations took a hit last year in November after the Maldives’ government terminated a $500 million airport modernisation contract awarded to Indian infrastructure major GMR.

During his meeting, Mr Nasheed said he was happy that he could contest the elections without his candidacy being challenged.