However, with Muizzu having chosen to visit Beijing, India is not in a hurry to host him and will wait for the right occasion to welcome him.Diplomatic sources both here and in Male said the Maldives had discussed with India in November last year, around the time he assumed office, the possibility of a visit by Muizzu.
Before the 2 sides could finalise the dates though, Muizzu chose to visit Turkey becoming the first democratically elected Maldivian president to not visit India first after taking office. In the middle of the talks with India, Muizzu also seemed to have lost no time in accepting an offer by Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Beijing, complicating further prospects for his India visit as India would not want to host him, as a source said, days or weeks after his return from China.
A diplomatic source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, denied that India was late in reacting to the proposed visit. “Summits have to be planned and you need time to finalise the dates. The PM did have a bilateral meeting with the president in Dubai last month, on the margins of COP 28,’’ he said.
In Beijing, Muizzu on Tuesday appealed to China to send more tourists to the country amid a campaign by some Indian celebrities and others to boycott Maldives for the way some of Muizzu’s ministers mocked Modi for his visit to Lakshadweep, the Indian archipelago not far from the Indian Ocean country. “China was our number 1 market pre-Covid and it is my request that we intensify efforts for China to regain this position,’’ he said. In an interview to TOI last week, he had said that India sent the maximum number of tourists to the Maldives last year.
His ongoing visit will last till January 12. For India, it’s also important that the visit take place in the right atmosphere. Modi’s Dubai meeting with Muizzu, who wants Indian military personnel expelled from the Maldives, also left an unpleasant aftertaste as he returned to Male and said India had agreed to withdraw its troops involved in operating and maintaining Indian choppers involved in HADR activities. The Indian version was that the 2 sides were still looking to find a “workable’’ solution.
Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu heaps praise on China, calls Beijing a “valued ally and integral collaborator”
China on India-Maldives Row: ‘New Delhi should stay more open-minded’
Maldives president Mohamed Muizzu pleads China for tourism boost