Maldives' new president warns treasury 'looted' during China-led boom

PM Narendra Modi is travelling to Maldives for the swearing-in of its new president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih will take oaths as the new President tomorrow at a ceremony which will also be attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi sat at the ceremony flanked by the two key leaders of the new ruling coalition - former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed - and his presence reflected the end of years of icy relations because of former president Abdulla Yameen's tilt towards China.

India and the Maldives on Saturday agreed to focus on each other's concerns while maintaining peace and stability in the Indian Ocean as a new government headed by President Ibrahim Solih assumed office in Male following the ouster of a pro-China regime in recent elections.

A joint statement was also released which noted the "resilience of relations between India and the Maldives", and both leaders "expressed confidence in the renewal of close bonds of cooperation and friendship with the election of Mr Solih as President of the Maldives". It added that Modi promised "to help the new government in meeting its pledges to the people of the Maldives". It represents the collective aspirations of the people of the Republic of Maldives for democracy, rule of law and a prosperous future. India, the US, Japan and Australia then previous year revived a quad they had formed to work for peace and prosperity in the region.

On the economic front, Solih briefed PM Modi on the dire economic situation in the country, and the two discussed ways in which India can continue the development partnership. This is Modi's first visit to the Maldives as PM.

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Solih highlighted the pressing need for increased housing and infrastructure development as well as for establishing water and sewerage systems in the outlying islands.

PM Modi had also said that he will convey to Solih his wish to work with the new Maldives government in different areas to boost ties. The minister of foreign affairs of Maldives will also be visiting India on November 26 to hold further discussions and to prepare for President Solih's impending visit. Solih's party has criticized China's activities in the country, and is expected to review major projects.

More than 80 percent the Maldives foreign debt is owed to China, he said.

Former President Yameen was seen as anti-India and pro-China while new President Solih is perceived to be pro-India.

China has also loaned other countries around the Indian Ocean and beyond large amounts of money for infrastructure projects as part of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative, alarming the West.

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