Fri, 30 Jul 2021

New Delhi [India], June 7 (ANI): India's prior commitment to Maldives was the reason it supported the island country over Afghanistan for the presidency of the 76th United Nations General Assembly, said sources.

The Foreign Minister of Maldives, Abdullah Shahid, who was on Monday elected President of the 76th United Nations General Assembly (PGA).

According to sources, India had announced its support for Shahid during the visit of Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla to the Maldives in November 2020.

However, in January 2021 Afghanistan too announced its candidature with its foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul throwing his hat into the contest.

Both Maldives and Afghanistan have excellent relations with India, and both candidates are friends of India. However, since India had already committed its support to the Maldives at a time when no other candidate was in the fray, India voted in favour of the Maldives, sources said.

Also, while Rassoul also has strong credentials, by the time his candidature was announced, Maldives had already garnered extensive support, sources said.

Moreover, Maldives has never held the office of PGA, while Afghanistan has held this post during the 21st GA session in 1966-67.

Shahid is eminently qualified to hold the office of PGA, with vast diplomatic experience and strong credentials, especially in the multilateral fora, said sources.

They further said that India remains committed to supporting the office of the PGA, as it has consistently done in previous years.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also conveyed his felicitations to Shahid on this accomplishment.

"Heartiest felicitations to Foreign Minister of Maldives @abdulla_shahid on his election as President for 76th UN General Assembly," he said.

"This is a testimony as much to his own stature as to the standing of Maldives. We look forward to working with him to strengthen multilateralism and its much-needed reforms," the minister added.

In February, Jaishankar stated that the Maldivian Foreign Minister is "best equipped" to be the President of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

"I reiterate today India's strong support to the candidature of Foreign Minster Abdulla Shahid for President of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly next year. Foreign Minister Shahid, with his vast diplomatic experience and his leadership qualities, is, in our view, the best equipped to preside over the General Assembly of 193 nations of the world," Jaishankar said at the Joint Conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The 76th session (2021-22) is the turn of the Asia-Pacific group that will commence on September 14. This is the first time Maldives will be occupying the office of the PGA. (ANI)

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