Maldives President Muizzu, Mauritius PM Jugnauth arrive in Delhi to attend Modi's oath ceremony

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Mohamed Muizzu Pravind Kumar Jugnauth

Mohamed Muizzu (L); Pravind Kumar Jugnauth (R)

New Delhi: Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu and Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth arrived in Delhi on Sunday morning to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi.

It is Muizzu's first visit to India after he became the island nation's president on November 17 last year.

Jugnauth and Muizzu are among the leaders of seven countries from India's neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean region attending the swearing-in ceremony of Modi and his council of ministers this evening at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

"President @MMuizzu of Maldives arrives to a warm welcome in New Delhi to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said on 'X'.

"India and Maldives are maritime partners and close neighbours," he added.

Bangladesh President Sheikh Hasina and Vice-President of Seychelles Ahmed Afif have already arrived in Delhi.

Besides Muizzu, Jugnauth, Hasina and Afif, the other leaders attending the ceremony are Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay.

The invitation by New Delhi to Muizzu to attend the swearing-in ceremony assumed significance as it came amid frosty ties between India and the Maldives.

On Saturday, Muizzu said he looked forward to working with Modi to further strengthen the close relations with India, noting that the relationship between the two countries is heading in a "positive direction".

The ties between India and the Maldives came under severe strain since Muizzu, known for his pro-China leanings, took charge of the top office.

Within hours of his oath, he had demanded the withdrawal of Indian military personnel from his country. The Indian military personnel were replaced by civilians earlier this month.

"The visit of the leaders to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his third consecutive term is in keeping with the highest priority accorded by India to its 'Neighbourhood First' policy and 'SAGAR' vision," the Ministry of External Affairs said.

India has been cooperating with the countries of the Indian Ocean region under the broader policy framework of SAGAR or Security and Growth for all in the Region.

In addition to participating in the swearing-in ceremony, the foreign leaders will also attend a banquet hosted by President Droupadi Murmu.

The leaders of regional grouping SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries attended Modi's first swearing ceremony when he took the reins as prime minister after a massive electoral victory for BJP.

Leaders of the BIMSTEC countries attended Modi's swearing-in ceremony, in 2019 when he became prime minister for the second consecutive term.

Though the BJP could not get a majority on its own in the recent Lok Sabha polls, the party-led alliance secured 293 seats out of 543. The majority mark in the lower house is 272.