Maldives FM Tours Sri Lanka Following India

Observers will closely watch the Maldivian Foreign Minister’s visit to Colombo, as President Muizzu has pledged to end the Indian Ocean archipelago’s ‘India First’ policy….reports Asian Lite News

Maldives Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer arrived in Colombo on Monday, beginning a three-day visit to the island nation as the pro-China government led by President Mohamed Muizzu focuses on building closer ties with the countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Last month, Zameer paid an official visit to New Delhi and held discussions on bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest with India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

“This visit was long overdue. Usually, when a new cabinet is appointed in the Maldives, they make their first visits to Sri Lanka. But it couldn’t be done this time as his counterpart in Sri Lanka was not available,” said a source close to Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister.

The Maldivian Foreign Minister’s Colombo visit will be watched closely by the observers as Muizzu has pledged to end the Indian Ocean archipelago’s ‘India First’ policy.

Interestingly, the strained ties between the two countries saw more Indian tourists flocking Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s Tourism Minister has acknowledged that as Maldives’ tourism market dropped drastically in 2024, the number of Indian tourists arriving in Sri Lanka rose rapidly from 13,759 in January 2023 to 34,000 in January 2024.

Tourism Minister Harin Fernando has also said that Sri Lanka has a lot more to offer to Indian tourists – including beaches, shopping and the Ramayana Trail which historically connects the two South Asian neighbours.

During his visit, Zameer is scheduled to pay courtesy calls on President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena besides holding official bilateral talks with Foreign Minister Ali Sabry.

The ministers representing the two island nations in South Asia are expected to explore avenues to further strengthen the longstanding bilateral ties and also discuss providing convenient facilities to the Maldivians residing in Sri Lanka.

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