Underlining the fact that Maldives’ foreign policy is based on “India first”, Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid on Friday described the relationship with India as “special” and said that Indian leadership internationally has been outstanding, adding that New Delhi established itself by supporting and assisting countries at the time of need.
He went forward and praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and quoted his statement that “Prime Minister Narendra Modi clearly stated that the G20 is not only the 20 countries sitting around the table.”
“For Maldives, India is special. Our foreign policy is based on India first for reasons I’ve told you before-we’ve no enemies but are friends to all,” Abdulla Shahid said while speaking to ANI.
The Maldives’ Foreign Minister said that India has the largest population, and is fastest-growing economy and is the chair of the G20.
Applauding the stature acquired by India globally, he said, “India’s leadership internationally has been outstanding and that’s for everyone to see how India established itself.”
“India’s leadership internationally is being talked about and respected by everyone around the world. We are very happy that we have a neighbour that has a neighbourhood-first policy and is ready to reach out, India is a time-tested friend of ours. For every emergency we have had in the Maldives, India has been the first responder,” he said while elaborating how India’s neighbourhood-first policy has benefitted it.
“The generosity with which India has reached out to us during the 1988 mercenary attack, 2004 tsunami, and 2015 water crisis and most recently in the COVID-19 pandemic is amazing. We are very grateful how India had reached out to us,” he added.
He also mentioned India’s support to Turkey in the aftermath of the earthquake and said, “India dispatched rescue personnel immediately. Indian leadership appreciated throughout world.”
Listing out the major connectivity projects undertaken by India, he said, “Ongoing great Himalaya connectivity bridge project is going to be a symbol of friendship between India and Maldives.”
The foreign minister also referred to other projects that are underway in the Maldives, ranging from small community projects to mega projects like bridges, airports, hospitals, water and sewerage projects in the islands, and housing projects.
However, he said, “it would be unfair to single out the importance of any one of them.”
Abdullah Shahid said that India’s presidency of the G20 is being seen around the world as an opportunity which Prime Minister Narendra Modi clearly stated that the G20 is not only the 20 countries sitting around the table.
On asking about the gesture of inviting all the neighbours to the G20 summit, Maldives’ Foreign Minister said that India has the neighbourhood first policy and Maldives is delighted to be a part of Indian chairmanship G20.
Speaking on India-Maldives relations he said very firmly that Maldives is not a competing playground for anyone.
He said, “Maldives has a very special relationship with India, Prime Minister Modi was there (Maldives) for President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s swearing-in ceremony in 2018 and President Solih visited India for a state visit in December the same year and since then very high-level visits and contacts have taken place,” he added while emphasizing the deepening of ties between both the countries.
Speaking further, he said, “Trust and confidence in the leadership of both nations have been extremely good. People like us and EAM Jaishankar have to make sure we deliver on the commitments made by the leaders. I am very happy we both have been able to deliver as well. As a result, I would say that the relationship between India and Maldives has never been better”.
On meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, he said that the EAM was in Maldives in January.
“I’m meeting him here again so it’s just that we will recap and make sure we are on the right trajectory,” he mentioned.
On comparing the relationship of Maldives with India and China, he said that for Maldives, India is special. Maldives’ foreign policy is based on “India-first”.
“We have no enemies and we work with everyone,” he said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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