India and Maldives signed pacts on health and education on Saturday, 26 March, in the backdrop of the latter's former president Abdulla Yameen's return to politics with an "India Out" campaign.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met with his Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid at Addu City, and even discussed regional security and maritime safety issues.
Calling it a "fruitful meeting", Jaishankar said, "We discussed capacity building and training cooperation in law enforcement. Appreciate his strong support for India-Maldives special partnership."
India has been worried about China's creeping influence into the country, with Yameen's campaign furthering those fears, given that he wants to terminate defense deals with India and sabotage decades of friendly ties.
Jaishankar and Shahid both tweeted appreciation for each other after their meeting.
Yameen's 'India Out' Campaign
Over the past many years, elections have often focused a lot on foreign policy, since it has a strong link to Maldives' economic development.
This is also the period when China rose to the status of a global power and started showing interest in Maldivian affairs.
Abdulla Yameen (president from 2013-2018), along with his party, the Progressive Party of Maldives, is known to have a pro-Beijing stance and anti-Delhi stance.
Yameen was released from house arrest in December last year after the Supreme Court of the Maldives overturned his conviction. He had been convicted of corruption and money laundering in November 2019.
Anti-India campaigns and rallies have been on the rise since his release.
On the other hand, the Maldivian Democratic Party, which is the majority party in the country's parliament, is known for its pro-India stance.
The next presidential and parliamentary elections will be held two years from now, in 2024.
(With inputs from Reuters and Indian Express)
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