India is the closest friend of the Maldives: President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih

Published - December 16, 2018 09:46 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Boosting ties:  President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and First Lady Fazna Ahmed after arriving in New Delhi on Sunday.

Boosting ties: President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and First Lady Fazna Ahmed after arriving in New Delhi on Sunday.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the Maldives began his trip to India in an upbeat note by declaring his country’s commitment for trade with foreign partners. Addressing a public event on December 16, Mr. Solih said that there are no obstructions in doing business with his country and described India as the ‘closest friend’ of Male.

“Maldives and India have been friends since time immemorial. India is our closest neighbour and our people have ties of friendship and cultural affinity and within those close links trade and commerce have flourished. India is not only our closest friend, it is also one of our largest trading partners,” said President Solih at the event organised by CII, FICCI and ASOCHAM.

Mr. Solih highlighted the business-friendly attitude of his government and said that Maldives is open for business and investment. “We have near perfect capital mobility. In the Maldives there are no obstacles to foreign ownership of investment,” he said and added, “the Maldives is open for business”.

The visiting dignitary who is accompanied by senior members of his government, emphasised that the Maldives is a developing country that is building its infrastructure sector consisting of ports and connectivity facilities.

The visit is significant as it came a month after the swearing-in ceremony in Male that was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who paid a day-long visit to the archipelago nation. Mr. Solih will hold delegation level talks with Indian leaders on Monday.

Earlier, welcoming the visiting President of the Maldives, Minister of Commerce and Industr and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu urged the guest to seek India’s partnership in addressing Male’s developmental challenges. He said that Indian government’s flagship projects also have scope for Maldives-India partnership.

“Yours is a nation consisting of islands but you are not isolated in any way. Please tell us areas of your priorities and the entire might of the Government of India will be with you,” said Mr. Prabhu pointing at India’s commitment to the Maldives.

Minister of Urban Development and former diplomat Hardeep Singh Puri drew attention to the recent struggle of the country against the authoritarian government of President Abdullah Yameen and said the election of President Solih was watched with “jubilation” in India.

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