India’s Narendra Modi makes first foreign trip of new term to the Maldives

India’s Narendra Modi makes first foreign trip of new term to the Maldives

Fresh from re-election victory, Indian PM Narendra Modi travels to the Maldives today for his first overseas trip since securing

modi maldives

Photo: HT

Fresh from re-election victory, Indian PM Narendra Modi travels to the Maldives today for his first overseas trip since securing a second term.

The Indian PM visited in November to support Maldivian President Ibrahim Solih at his inauguration. Mr Solih was elected as a staunch supporter of cooperation with India, whereas then-outgoing President Abdulla Yameen had pursued closer ties to China.

Indeed, Beijing has been investing heavily in the Maldives in recent years, including construction on previously uninhabited atolls, a massive airport expansion and numerous luxury hotels. While Chinese infrastructure projects are already underway, India is likely set to be the Maldives’ largest economic partner in the near-term as it ramps up investment..

Indeed, President Solih has stated that he will pursue an “India first” policy, while opening reviews on Chinese projects. The current administration views growing debt to China—currently more than a quarter of annual GDP at $1.5 billion—as a major economic threat, and the first country Mr Solih has sought financial assistance from is India. Going forward, India could greatly counter Chinese influence with similar debt assistance and investment elsewhere in the region, such as Sri Lanka, where PM Modi will visit tomorrow.

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