President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on Saturday, refuted criticism that his administration's heavy reliance on support from India.
Speaking to Indian media outlet The Hindu, President Solih expressed appreciation for India's role in providing economic and financial relief, as well as continued support for Maldives' developmental efforts.
The president also voiced satisfaction regarding the improvement in bilateral ties between Maldives and India, as well as other countries throughout the course of his term in office.
In reference to the increase in geopolitical tension in the region during 2020, particularly following border clashes between India and China, President Solih reiterated Maldives' belief that differences between international partners can be settled peacefully by dialogue and mediation.
He went on to state that Maldivian foreign policy remained unaffected by such developments, asserting that these events did not "hinder our ability to constructively engage with our partners on issues of mutual interest".
In response to a question posed regarding the prospects for regional cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region in this difficult climate of the pandemic and persisting bilateral tension between India and Pakistan, the president noted Maldives’s policy against commenting on disagreements between two sovereign countries, whilst highlighting the importance of strengthening multilateral and regional cooperation mechanisms to facilitate amicable dialogue and mediation.
"While the pandemic may be a challenge towards realising such ends in the immediate future, I believe it has made especially evident that major global issues and crises cannot be contained to borders, and will thus help galvanise efforts to strengthen regional cooperation frameworks in the long-term. The Maldives is happy to be part of such efforts".
Overall, President Solih stated that the aim of Maldives’ diplomatic and international engagements included the enhancement of commercial cooperation, strengthening security in the Indian Ocean Region, as well as advocating for important issues on the international fora, including climate change and environmental preservation.
While bilateral ties between the neighbouring Maldives and India have experienced a marked improvement compared to the previous administration, the political opposition has continued to criticise the closer ties, accusing the administration of "selling off Maldives" and endangering the nation's sovereignty.