Modi: Maldives holds a special place in India’s ’Neighborhood First’ policy

Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (R) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) during official discussions at the President's Office on June 8, 2019. (Photo/President's Office)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi says that the Maldives holds a special place in India’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy.

He made the remark in a message on Saturday, delivering Republic Day greetings to the Maldives.

In his message, Modi extended warm greetings to Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the Maldivian government, and the Maldivian people.

He stressed that Maldives and India enjoy a close relationship, led by strong historical and cultural linkages, and dynamic people-to-people ties.

Modi said that Maldives holds a special place in India’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy, and is a key player in enabling the vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) - a label used by Modi’s administration for India's vision and geopolitical framework of maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean region.

Modi reiterated India’s commitment to working closely with the Maldives for the continued socio-economic progress of the people of both countries.

He also conveyed his strong belief that the enduring multi-dimensional partnership between Maldives and India will soar to greater heights in the coming years.

India’s External Affairs Ministry confirmed on Friday that Modi has been invited to attend the inauguration of Maldivian President-elect Dr. Mohamed Muizzu next weekend.

However, India has yet to confirm where Modi – who had attended the outgoing Maldivian president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s inauguration in 2018, will attend Muizzu’s inauguration.

Muizzu had built his presidential campaign on the promise of expelling Indian military personnel from the Maldives.

In a recent interview to Reuters, Muizzu said that though he intends to hold frank and detailed diplomatic consultations with India to work out the details of expelling military personnel from the Maldives as soon as possible, he would make it a priority to ensure that Maldives’ relations with India thrive under his leadership.

He has stated that his administration will foster close relations with all countries that respect Maldives’ independence and sovereignty.