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Maldives President Abdulla Yameen visiting India in December
Friday November 29, 2013 11:12 PM, IANS

Newly-elected Maldives President Abdulla Yameen is visiting India in the third week of December when he would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss bilateral issues, a move that would help India reach out to the new government in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation and remove any past misgivings.

Yameen, the half-brother of former long-time president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, won the presidential run-off on Nov 16. The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader is Maldives' sixth president.

Yameen is also to be the chief guest at the convocation of the SAARC-established South Asian University (SAU) on Dec 24, knowledgeable sources told IANS.

The university, established in 2010, had to cancel its first convocation of Dec 6 after the SAARC General Secretary Ahmed Saleem was unable to arrive from Maldives citing the political uncertainty in his nation.

India was swift to congratulate Yameen - even though New Delhi was known to back his opponent Mohammed Nasheed - after he won the presidential run-off and said it looks forward to cooperating with him and his government.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in a separate congratulatory message, had assured President Yameen of India's full support in his efforts to provide a peaceful and prosperous future for the people of Maldives..Replying to the prime minister's letter, President Yameen said that his country's relations with India were a priority and said he looked forward to an early opportunity to discuss issues of common interest.

"I take this opportunity to assure you that I prioritise relations with India, and am keen on finding ways to enhance the longstanding close friendly ties between our two countries," Yameen said in the letter.

India is keen to build bridges with the new government of Yameen, who has said his priority is to build the economy which is in a "deep pit".

According to Minivan News, the government of Maldives is currently in discussion with India to secure further budget support to plug the 2014 budget deficit.

In the run-off, Yameen had polled about three percent votes higher than his rival, Maldivian Democratic Party's Mohamed Nasheed, Maldives' first democratically elected president who had to step down early 2012 in what he said was a coup.

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