05/29/2019, 18.43
INDIA
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Modi to meet with the leaders of the Maldives, US and China

After taking office on 30 May, Modi’s foreign visits will be in June and October. Pakistan is not among the countries invited at the swearing-in ceremony. Maldives is seeking an alternative to China with whom it has a US$ 3 billion debt.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Fresh from re-election, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign agenda is already full, including a visit to the Maldives on 7-8 June, a meeting with Donald Trump on June 27-28, and barring unforeseen circumstances, a tête-à-tête with Xi Jinping on 11 October.

Such a list confirms Modi’s geopolitical activism, in a never-ending attempt to counter Chinese hegemony in the Indian Ocean and US threats of trade sanctions.

As some political analysts had opined after the landslide victory, Prime Minister Modi ‘s first post-election trip will be to Malé, the capital of the Maldives.

The archipelago represents an important showcase in regional economic relations. One the one hand, the country has a huge debt with China (US$ three billion) due to agreements signed by a former president; on the other, the election of a new leadership opens up opportunities for other players,  first and foremost neighbouring India who would like to replace the Chinese juggernaut.

Modi will take his oath of office on 30 May. Leaders of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand – are expected to attend. Pakistan has not been invited.

Following his second inauguration, Modi will travel to the Maldives on 7 and 8 June where he will meet with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. The two leaders have developed a personal rapport. Modi was the first foreign leader to visit the country following Solih’s unexpected election in November 2018.

The latter repaid the courtesy by visiting India in December. On this occasion New Delhi promised economic aid worth US$ 1.4 billion in budgetary support, currency swap and concessional lines of credit for socio-economic development programmes.

In addition, the two leaders agreed to establish a framework of cooperation in health (particularly cancer treatment), mutual legal assistance on criminal matters, investment promotion, human resource development, and tourism.

Modi’s second important meeting will be with Donald Trump, on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Japan. The US president was one of the first foreign leaders to call Modi after his victory, with promises of a stronger strategic partnership between the United States and India (with China in mind).

The October meeting with the head of China’s Communist Party has not been finalised. According to Indian news agencies, New Delhi has proposed an informal summit in Varanasi, like the one that occurred in China in April 2018.

The two leaders are expected to discuss the Sino-Indian border dispute and the trade war between China and the United States.

To protect its interests China has been projecting its power in the South China Sea, which serves as a passage for annual trade worth .5 trillion.

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