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Last Updated At :- 19-10-2018 08:26 PM

India seeks to further deepen ties with Maldives

New Delhi, Oct 18 (IANS) India is looking forward to further deepen its partnership with the Maldives following the just concluded presidential election in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.

Stating that India has already welcomed the successful conclusion of the third presidential election process in the Maldives, ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi also spoke to President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and offered his personal congratulations.

Solih, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party's candidate, emerged victorious over incumbent President Abdulla Yameen. He will be sworn in on November 17 and his term is expected to continue until 2023.

The atoll nation's relations with India became strained during Yameen's rule, with tensions peaking after India criticised Male's refusal to enforce a Supreme Court ruling quashing the convictions of nine opposition figures, among them former President Mohamed Nasheed.

"In keeping with our Neighbourhood First policy, we look forward to working closely with the Maldives in further deepening our partnership," Kumar said.

"We have consistently held this position since the imposition of emergency earlier this year that there is a need to protect democracy in the Maldives, preserve the mandate of the people".

The spokesperson said that this election marks "not only the triumph of the democratic forces of the Maldives but also reflect the firm commitment to the values of democracy and the rule of law".

"We are, of course, confident that the mandate of the people will be upheld," he added.

Asked whether Modi will visit the Maldives at Solih's invitation to attend the swearing-in ceremony in November, Kumar said that the contours of the visit are still being worked on and a formal statement will be made once it is finalised.

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