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SOURCE: ANI

Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid has hit out at those fuelling the ‘India out campaign’ in the island nation. Talking to ANI in New Delhi, Abdulla said it is a campaign launched by a group of people who have nothing to offer.

“They have no political, social, economic, development agenda. Their agenda is hate. This is what they are promising to the people of Maldives and we’ll not buy into hate,” he said. Ministry of External Affairs has said that the ‘India out’ campaign was based on misinformation and false propaganda and does not reflect the views of the people of Maldives.

The campaign is led by the Maldives opposition led by former pro-China Maldives President Abdulla Yameen.

The economic crisis has hit small island nations like Sri Lanka, a neighbour of Maldives. Sri Lanka recently witnessed massive protests and ousting of leadership over the economic crisis. The inability to pay fuel bills and huge debt was also an issue faced by Lanka. Asked whether the Maldives is vulnerable and can slip into a similar economic crisis owing to huge debts, Shahid said, “so far we have been able to pay all our debts even in this difficult period (COVID-19 pandemic) with the G-20 debt suspension initiative”.

“Many countries have been able to go through it and I hope we will survive,” he said.

He also referred to the travel bubble between Maldives and India during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When the rest of the world shuts down, our tourism industry is shut down but it is also a fact that at the height of the pandemic, we were able to reach understanding with India on the travel bubble between Maldives and India, providing for Indian tourists’ visit to the Maldives in 2020. For example, at the height of the pandemic, we were able to receive over half a million tourists which kept our industry moving and since then the economy is recovering. The pace of recovery is good and our economy is stable,” Shahid said.

“We live in an interconnected world, war in Europe has badly affected Maldives as many other countries. Food crisis, fuel crisis, everything affects everyone…during pandemic from a middle-income country, we went to lower-income country overnight,” he added.