Foreign secretary S Jaishankar’s visit to the Maldives in the second leg of his trip to the Saarc states seems uncertain, with ties between the two countries souring over the arrest of a former president of the Islamic republic, sources said on Thursday.
New Delhi made its displeasure known after Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected leader, was ousted in disputed circumstances and then arrested under charges of terrorism.
The ambiguity over the foreign secretary’s visit comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi skipped the Maldives during his trip to some Indian Ocean nations, as sources said the government was apprehensive of the situation in the island nation hitting regional stability.
“We are concerned at recent developments in the Maldives, including the arrest and manhandling of former President Nasheed,” a statement from the ministry of external affairs had said about the arrest and manhandling of Nasheed earlier.
Jaishankar is scheduled to visit the Maldives and Nepal next month in the final phase of his Saarc yatra as part of Modi’s attempt at an outreach to India’s South Asian neighbours.
He went to Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka in the first leg of the programme.
Sources said his trip to Kathmandu may coincide with the BIMSTEC meet of foreign secretaries from several South Asian and South-East Asian countries.
The foreign secretary’s visits that began this month also marked the resumption of high-level Indo-Pak talks with New Delhi saying it’s prepared to discuss all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir.
The Saarc yatra was born out of Modi’s cricket diplomacy, when he telephoned Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and the heads of the other Saarc nations participating in the cricket World Cup, conveying his best wishes for the event.