India urges Commonwealth to fast-track Maldives’ re-admission

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New Delhi, July 11 (IANS) External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, who attended the 19th Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting in London, called for fast-tracking the Maldives’ re-admission into the Commonwealth, which it left in a huff in 2016 over criticism of the arrest of political leaders including former President Mohammed Nasheed.

The July 9-11 Commonwealth Foreign Ministers meeting was hosted by the UK, the current Chair-in-Office. Jaishankar also held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from the UK, Canada and Australia and the State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, an official statement said on Thursday.

In his remarks, Jaishankar congratulated the member countries on the 70th anniversary of the Commonwealth. He noted that India was well on the path of fulfilling all the commitments made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at CHOGM 2018 — much before the next CHOGM in 2020.

Jaishankar called for fast-tracking the re-admission of the Maldives to the Commonwealth.

After the defeat of Abdulla Yameen who quit the Commonwealth, new President Ibrahim Mohammed Solih has applied to rejoin the body.

The Commonwealth had warned the Yameen regime of possible suspension if it failed to show progress on democracy, including freedom of speech, detention of opponents and independence of the judiciary.

In retaliation, Male withdrew from the Commonwealth, accusing it of interfering in its domestic affairs.

Jaishankar also held bilateral discussions with his British counterpart, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. They agreed to bring the entire gamut of India-UK bilateral relations into sharper focus.

Jaishankar thanked Hunt for the British government’s support to Prime Minister Modia¿s initiative to build a global Coalition of Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).

India had announced the creation of CDRI soon after the 2016 Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, an Indian initiative on the lines of the International Solar Alliance. The UK is among the countries that has pledged to join the initiative.

Jaishankar also separately met his counterpart from Australia Marise Payne and Canada Chrystia Freeland, and the State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh Mohd Shahriar Alam on the margins of the Commonwealth meet and covered a wide range of bilateral issues.

During the visit, Jaishankar also interacted with a large number of MPs, Lords and key representatives of think tanks and media to exchange views on many issues and to find ways and means to further cement the multifaceted India-UK ties, the statement said.

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