Newly-elected President of Maldives Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has assured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he prioritised relations with India and was keen on finding ways to enhance the longstanding close friendly ties between the two countries if Dr. Singh decides to visit Male.

Replying to a congratulatory message sent out by Dr. Singh on November 17 after he won the elections defeating the former President, Mohd. Nasheed, Mr. Yameen pointed out that his first formal appointment with a foreign dignitary was with Indian High Commissioner Rajiv Sahare.

Informed sources said the warmth expressed by the President in his letter written to Dr. Singh this Wednesday was an outcome of India’s stand of supporting only the democratic process while being even-handed with all the candidates in the fray.

Did not back any candidate

“India’s interest was in the democratic process that was taken forward successfully and was acceptable to all parties. Whatever the result… it was due to all-round efforts that the democratic process was successfully carried out. This will contribute to stability in Maldives, a prerequisite for growth and development. So from our point of view, the elections were the priority,’’ said the sources.

India, the sources maintained, had not backed any candidate and in this respect drew attention to the roster of high level visitors from Maldives in the run up to the elections – “It wasn’t just Nasheed who came. The Prime Minister and senior officials also met previous President Waheed, his Defence Minister, Mr. Yameen and Mr. Gayoom. Mr. Gasim [the third candidate in the first round of elections] was also invited but he couldn’t come.’’

“Our effort has been across the spectrum. We also interacted with their judges and election commission officers. We can’t afford to but back the government in power. We are very conscious of that,’’ the sources added.

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