India is the closest friend of the Maldives: President Solih

Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih began his trip to India on an upbeat note by declaring his country’s commitment to trade with foreign partners. Addressing a public event on Sunday, Mr. Solih said there were no obstructions to 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 the Confederation of Indian Industry, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India. Mr. Solih highlighted the business-friendly attitude of his government, and said that the Maldives was open for business and investment. ‘No obstacles’ “We have near perfect capital mobility. In the Maldives, there are no obstacles to foreign ownership of investment,” he said. “The Maldives is open for business.” The President, accompanied by senior members of his government, emphasised that the Maldives was a developing country that was building its infrastructure sector consisting of ports and other connectivity facilities. The visit is significant as it comes a month after his swearing-in 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 Industry and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu urged the guest to seek India’s partnership in addressing Male’s development challenges. He said the Indian government’s flagship projects also had scope for Maldives-India partnership. ‘Not isolated’ “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,” the Union Minister said. 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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