Maldivian President Yameen Abdul Gayoom will arrive here on Wednesday on his first official foreign visit after winning the elections in November.
New Delhi has given his trip the status of a state visit which is a “manifestation of the importance India attaches to its relations with the Maldives,” said a government official. That he has chosen India for his first overseas tour is indicative of the robust relationship between the countries, officials added.
Mr. Yameen will meet the entire top leadership to discuss the “full gamut” of the relationship whose several aspects have been in limbo since the Maldives was gripped by political turmoil following the ouster of Mohd Nasheed as President in February 2012.
The Yameen visit will see India offering the Maldives new assistance as well as restarting work on projects whose pace had slackened due to anti-India propaganda by some radical groups. Mr. Yameen is bringing along several Ministers in his delegation.
Asked whether issues relating to GMR’s airport project would be resolved, officials said this was an arbitration matter and both sides were proceeding on those lines.
Mr. Yameen was supposed to come around December 20 but that visit could not materialise because India wanted to roll out the red carpet for him and according to protocol, one of the elements is a state banquet at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. This was not possible at that time because the host, President Pranab Mukherjee, was not in Delhi.
Mr. Yameen’s visit was preceded by that of his Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim. Besides agreeing on joint naval exercises next year, India opened the doors of its armed forces’ medical hospitals to train Maldivian medical specialists and to treat Maldives National Defence Force personnel for major surgeries and serious illnesses.
Mr. Yameen, leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives, is the half-brother of the former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.