(G.N.S) Dt. 26
Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdulla Gayoom on Sunday called India a close friend against whom he will not entertain negative sentiments. Gayoom termed India’s contributions as invaluable and added that his Government is working to boost ties with New Delhi. He said a Free Trade Agreement between India and Maldives is being worked out. Maldives recently signed its first FTA with China, despite an earlier announcement by Gayoom that India will be the first country with which the FTA would be signed. The move triggered speculations of a dip in the ties.
Incidentally, shortly after this, three local councilors of Maldives were suspended for three months after their meeting with the Indian ambassador. The Maldives Home Ministry defended the act saying the meeting had taken place despite a ban on meeting with diplomats without prior permission from the Government.A couple of days later a pro-Government website carried an anti-India article saying New Delhi was not a best friend but an enemy and that it viewed the Maldives with “envy, self-interest and hostility.” The article was withdrawn following heavy criticism from the Opposition leaders and former Maldives Presidents. While appealing for restraint in criticism and asking not to engage in negativity against India particularly in media, Gayoom underlined that India is the closest friend and ally of Maldives. Speaking at a function, he reiterated that his administration will never entertain negative sentiments towards India and highlighted that India’s assistance formed an invaluable contribution to the island country. Defending the recent FTA between China and Maldives, Gayoom said that the pact will bring several opportunities to the island country.
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