Following the recent events which have strained

Following the recent events which have strained Indian-Maldivian relationships, Maldives has conceived a high-level bilateral meeting with India to reverse the impact of the misgivings about Maldives’ perception of India.

Even though the nitty-gritty of the meeting is yet to be worked out, the visit is being planned early next month.Maldives recently signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China which is its first FTA with any country and is said to have undermined India’s position as the closest friend of Maldives. Further, a pro-government newspaper last week described India as an enemy nation and labeled PM Modi as anti-muslim, in addition to urging Male to find a new best friend in China. Male’s suspension of three local councilors for conducting an unofficial meeting with the Indian ambassador, Akhilesh Mishra, has also sparked tensions between the two countries.

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These instances have been deemed as a humiliation to India and have irked Indian officials.┬áThus, to mitigate the effect of these events on the diplomatic relations between the two nations, Abdulla Yameen, President of Maldives, issued an official statement declaring India as the country’s “closest friend” and ally. He specified in the statement that the editorial in the newspaper did not mirror his government’s stance towards India. He also acknowledged that India has made “invaluable contribution to the Maldives” and that the FTA between India and Maldives is also being contemplated.

Indian officials, on the other hand, have rejected the apprehensions that the FTA with China will contradict the India First policy of Maldives while urging Maldives to be more sensitive towards India’s concerns. Commenting on the recent episode, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “We should look beyond these developments and we should have diplomatic discussions between the two sides to address any issue between the two countries”.

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