April 2024 \ World News \ International News

Male: In an about-turn, Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu called India its “closest ally” and hoped it would provide debt relief to repay heavy loans that the successive governments in the island nation have taken from New Delhi. Further, the president with a pro-China tilt, stated that he has not taken any action or made any statements that may strain the relationship between the two countries, the Edition newspaper reported.

The total amount of loans taken from the Export and Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) stood at USD 1.4 million (MVR 22 million) and together with this, the amount owed by the Maldives to India by the end of 2023, stood at MVR 6.2 billion.

In his first interview since taking office last year with Edition’s sister publication, ‘Mihaaru’, Muizzu said: “The conditions we have inherited are such that there are very large loans taken from India. Hence, we are holding discussions to explore leniencies in the repayment structure of these loans”. Muizzu’s remarks come weeks after External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar took a veiled dig at Muizzu on his “big bullies” comment on India, saying: “Big bullies do not offer $4.5 billion aid or vaccine or food when neighbouring countries are in distress.”

The relationship between the two nations nosedived after Muizzu made a formal request to New Delhi to remove its military personnel from the island nation by March 15, 2024.

Tags: Maldives