• Monday, June 24, 2024


Maldives foreign minister to visit India; tourism minister appeals to Indians

The Indian ministry of external affairs said Moosa Zameer’s visit is expected to lend momentum to the two countries’ bilateral cooperation.

(L-R) Maldives incoming president Mohamed Muizzu (Photo by MOHAMED AFRAH/AFP via Getty Images) and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

THE foreign minister of the Maldives, Moosa Zameer, will visit India on Thursday (9) in the first high-level trip from the archipelago after its pro-China president Mohamed Muizzu took office in November last year.

The Indian ministry of external affairs (MEA) confirmed Zameer’s visit and said it is expected to lend further momentum to the bilateral cooperation.

The ties between the two maritime neighbours came under severe strain in view of Muizzu insisting on withdrawal of Indian military personnel operating three military platforms in the island-nation.

India has already withdrawn most of its military personnel.

Read: Maldives alarmed as India tourists continue to boycott archipelago

Muizzu had set May 10 as the deadline for withdrawal of the Indian military troops from his country.

“Moosa Zameer, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives, will be in India on an official visit on May 9,” the MEA said on Tuesday (7).

It said Zameer will meet his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar for discussions on bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest.

Read: Cash-strapped Pakistan reaches out to Maldives after India slashes aid

“The Maldives is India’s key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region and Foreign Minister Zameer’s visit is expected to lend further momentum to the bilateral cooperation between the two countries,” the MEA said in a statement.

The Maldivian foreign ministry said Zameer will hold talks with Jaishankar focusing on “deepening and expanding the longstanding” Maldives-India partnership.

“This is Foreign Minister Zameer’s first official visit to India since assuming office,” it said.

Maldives tourism minister urges Indians to visit his country

Meanwhile, the Maldives’ tourism minister on Monday appealed to Indians to contribute to his country’s economy, which is highly dependent on tourism, amid a dwindling number of Indian tourists.

In an interview with PTI Videos in Male, the minister, Ibrahim Faisal, stressed the two nations’ historical relations.

“We have a history. Our newly elected government also wants to work together (with India). We always promote peace and a friendly environment. Our people and the government will give a warm welcome to Indian arrivals. As the Tourism Minister, I want to tell Indians to please be a part of Maldives’ tourism. Our economy depends on tourism,” he said.

A full-blown backlash was directed at the Maldives in India following derogatory remarks against prime minister Narendra Modi on social media by three Maldivian officials after the Indian leader posted photos and video of the pristine Lakshadweep Islands on India’s west coast on January 6 on his X handle.

Scores of Indians, including multiple celebrities, scrapped their reservations and dropped plans to visit Maldives. The tourism arrival statistics reflected how from being a top visitor country, India’s position went down from topmost to sixth position after January.

According to a sun.mv report published on Monday, the number of tourist arrivals from India declined by 42 per cent in the first four months of this year compared to the first four months of last year.

At the start of this year, India was the top tourist market for the Maldives. Shortly into the year, India dropped to sixth place amongst the top tourist markets, the news portal reported.

According to Tourism Ministry statistics, Maldives recorded a total of 43,991 tourist arrivals from India as of May 4. Between January and April of last year, Maldives recorded 73,785 tourist arrivals. This year, the number stands at 42,638.

The Maldives is India’s key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and occupies a special place in its initiatives like ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ of the Modi government.

(With PTI inputs)

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