Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed his country’s strong commitment to their bilateral ties in a message delivered on Saturday. Marking the occasion of Maldives’ Republic Day, PM Modi extended warm greetings to Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the Maldivian government, and its people.

Highlighting the Maldives’ key role in India’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy and the SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) vision, Modi emphasised the close, historically and culturally rooted relations between the two nations, further strengthened by dynamic people-to-people ties. 

He conveyed his conviction that the multifaceted partnership between the two countries would reach new heights in the coming years, reiterating India’s dedication to working alongside the Maldives for mutual socio-economic progress.

This expression of goodwill comes amidst recent political developments in the Maldives, where President-Elect Dr. Mohamed Muizzu is preparing for his inauguration. India’s Ministry of External Affairs confirmed that PM Modi has been invited to the event, although a decision on the representative from India has not yet been made. MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi stated that while an invitation was extended to Modi, the Indian government is still deliberating who will attend the inauguration, and in what capacity.

The President-elect’s office, through spokesperson Mohamed Firuzul Abdulla Khaleel, clarified that the invitations were extended to countries, not individuals, in scenarios where nations have multiple leaders such as a President or Prime Minister. This statement followed media reports on the invitation to PM Modi.

Significantly, the slogan “India Out” featured prominently in Muizzu’s presidential campaign, reflecting a substantial segment of the Maldivian populace’s concerns over the presence of Indian troops in their country. President-elect Muizzu has expressed his belief that the long-term or permanent presence of foreign troops, including those from India, poses a threat to Maldives’ sovereignty.

Despite these sentiments, PM Modi had previously congratulated Muizzu on his election victory through social media, suggesting a continued effort from both sides to maintain and strengthen their long-established ties.

Additional Reporting by Ibrahim H. Shihab