The Maldives cannot grow or develop further if the country abandons its ties with India, Speaker and former President Mohamed has said.
Speaking at a ceremony in Male on Monday, to mark the Government of India’s handing over of outdoor fitness equipment for 61 islands across the Maldives, Mr. Nasheed said: “We must be wise, and join hands with India, so that we may enjoy similar growth and development. It is my opinion, and my firm belief that we cannot grow or develop beyond what we are now, if we abandon our close relationship with India.
Emphasising the Maldives’s presence and role in the Indian Ocean Region, Mr. Nasheed said: “I am also certain that Maldivians and their elected leaders will be wise and make shrewd and sensible decisions regarding our foreign policy and our relationship with our closest allies and neighbours, the closest and dearest of whom is India.”
Monday’s initiative is part of New Delhi’s nearly 200 million MVR-worth cash grant and development projects, being executed with Male, apart from the USD 800 million line of credit.
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Underscoring the Maldives’s cultural connect with India, Mr. Nasheed said “there is no Maldivian citizen who doesn’t wish” the Bachchans – recently tested COVID-19 – a speedy recovery. “Both our people eat rice and curry, tandoori and biryani. We watch Kasauti, and movies starring Shatrughan Sinha, Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha. Even our cultures have strong similarities.”
Speaking on the occasion, Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid said: “The traditionally close, bilateral relationship between the Maldives and India have been strengthened and deepened since November 2018. This is in no doubt, due to the personal commitment of President Solih to cultivating good neighbourly relations with our closest neighbour.”