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SOURCE: Times Now Digital

After halting Pakistan’s attempt to target India on Islamophobia at Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) meet, the Maldives helped New Delhi block the proposal to hold the 19th SAARC summit in Pakistan at the SAARC foreign ministers’ meeting.

Speaking at the meeting, Maldives foreign minister Abdulla Shahid said there was a need for creating a conducive environment to reach consensus on convening the 19th SAARC summit.

He further said that as the world is preoccupied in dealing with COVID-19 pandemic it is not the appropriate time to discuss the time of the summit.

After Maldives objection, the proposal was dropped
The stalled summit process was put on the meeting agenda by the current SAARC chair Nepal which called on the member states to explore options to hold the summit.

However, following Maldives objection, the proposal had to be dropped.

In his SAARC address, Shahid also said the financial package of USD 250 million pledged by India for Maldives was the largest financial support announced by a bilateral partner during the time of COVID-19 pandemic. He further said with the USD 1.4 billion received in 2018, and the cash grants for community projects, India was by the single largest donor to the Maldives.

India has also launched one of the largest infrastructure and connectivity projects in the northern Maldives, with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) commencing work on the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the Hanimaadhoo International Airport expansion project.

After a request from the Government of Maldives, India decided to support the Hanimaadhoo International Airport expansion project under USD 800 million Line of Credit from EXIM Bank.

Ties between India-Maldives improved after Ibrahim Solih came to power
Relations between India and Maldives deteriorated under former Maldivian president Abdulla Yameen. However, India-Maldives greatly improved after Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s swearing-in ceremony.

Maldives stood by India at the OIC virtual meet when it came under attack following the abrogation of Article 370 and the passing of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

“Targeting a specific country will be like side-stepping the real issue. In this light, let me state that singling out India, the largest democracy in the world and multicultural society and home to over 200 million Muslims, alleging Islamophobia would be factually incorrect,” Maldives’ Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Thilmeeza Hussain had said.