President Mohamed Muizzu will attend Indian Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s inauguration for a third term as the nation’s head of government, the President’s Office has confirmed.

India’s High Commissioner to the Maldives, Munu Mahawar, presented the letter of invitation to the President during a courtesy call, the President’s Office said in a statement. The High Commissioner extended greetings from Modi, conveying that the PM was looking forward to the President attending his momentous swearing-in for a third term, the statement said.

“The President expressed his gratitude to the Prime Minister for the invitation, adding that he would be honored to attend this historic event. He also stated that he looks forward to working with the Prime Minister to further strengthen the close relations with India, noting that Maldives-India relations is heading in the positive direction, as would be demonstrated by this visit,” the President’s Office said.

Relations between the Maldives and India had been strained, especially during Muizzu’s initial days in office, with the new administration being voted in on a campaign pledge heavily advocating eliminating any ‘foreign military’ in the Maldives which observers widely acknowledged as the Indian military presence in the country. Relations remained tense as the President, on his return from an official visit to China, seemed to further prioritise bilateral relations with nations outside the region — Muizzu, upon his return from China, underlined that the Maldives was not an other nation’s ‘backyard.’

“We are not a country in the backyard of any particular country. We are an independent and sovereign country. [Relations with China is] On the basis of our territorial integrity, which China respects us for,” Muizzu had said.

The President had, at the time, stated that the Indian Ocean was not the property of any particular nation and that the Maldives had a significant share in the Indian Ocean.