Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a significant move, will address the Maldivian parliament when he travels to the neighbouring island nation next week, his maiden overseas trip in his second term. Modi is expected to visit Male from June 7 to 9. In a shot in the arm for Indo-Maldives ties, former president Mohamed Nasheed was elected as the new speaker of the Majlis, or parliament, on Tuesday. Maldivian foreign minister Abdulla Shahid said his country’s parliament unanimously passed a resolution to invite Modi to address a sitting of the house. During his first term, Modi had addressed lawmakers in various countries – Nepal and Australia (2014), Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius (2015) and a joint session of the US Congress (2016).
Modi’s address to the Maldivian parliament is expected to focus on India’s neighbourhood policy and vision for the Indian Ocean region, where China has made strong inroads. The choice of Maldives as the first overseas destination of his second term is significant because Modi had skipped visiting the island nation in his first term until Yameen Abdul Gayoom was voted out of power in September 2018. Modi attended the swearing-in ceremony of Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as Maldives President in November.
In 2015, while addressing the national assembly in Mauritius, Modi referred to the Indo-Mauritius security partnership for the Indian Ocean region. “I see Mauritius as a leader in the Indian Ocean Community and as a bridge to Africa... For India and Mauritius, our destinies are linked by the currents of the Indian Ocean. Our security partnership has been a strong pillar of our relationship. And, it has stood the test of time. It is founded on unmatched mutual confidence and trust. It is rooted in the responsibility to each other that comes naturally from our friendship. It stems from our shared commitment to peace and prosperity in the Indian Ocean region,” Modi had said.