"--indo-Asian News Service"
Male, May 28 - Maldives accepts India's leadership role in the international arena and feels this would benefit the SAARC countries, President Abdulla Yameen has said.
Yameen was among the SAARC leaders who had attended the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as India's 15th prime minister.
During their meeting in New Delhi Tuesday, both leaders agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations, Minivan News reported.
During the meeting, Modi highlighted the close relations between the two countries under former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's leadership, and expressed confidence it could be restored in the future, the president's office said.
The importance of strengthening the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) should be prioritised over bilateral issues among its members, Modi told Yameen.
Yameen thanked India for its continued cooperation with the Maldives, Modi assured he would provide assistance in providing higher education opportunities in India for Maldivian students.
Maldives' long standing bilateral relations with India were strained following the
the controversial transfer power in February 2012 when the vice president, Mohammad Waheed, assumed power in the midst of street protests that followed the Supreme Court's strictures against president Mohammad Nasheed on a variety of issues. Citing failure to renegotiate terms, Waheed's government cancelled Indian infrastructure company GMR's $511 million airport project in November 2012. Yameen took office after the elections held in November 2013 and says one of his priorities is strengthening Maldivian-Indian ties.
--indo-Asian News Service