Narendra Modi and Ibrahim Mohamed Solih 181217
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih before a meeting at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi, Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. Image Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The new Maldives president, seen as closer to the West and India than his predecessor, secured $1.4 billion (Dh5.1 billion) from India on Monday in his first official visit to his country's "closest friend".

The package of financial assistance in the form of budgetary support, currency swap agreements and credit lines was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi following talks in New Delhi.

"India is our closest neighbour and our people are bound by ties of friendship and cultural affinity," Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the new Maldivian leader, told reporters in what was his first official trip abroad since becoming president last month.

"Within those close links, trade and commerce have flourished. India is not only our closest friend, it's also one of our largest trading partners," Solih said.

Solih, 54, unexpectedly beat his predecessor Abdulla Yameen to the presidency of the Indian Ocean archipelago and upmarket honeymoon destination in elections in September.

Besides being accused by critics of corruption and muzzling the media, Yameen was seen as close to China, borrowing money from Beijing for infrastructure projects including a new bridge and an airport expansion.

China has also loaned billions to other countries around the Indian Ocean and beyond, stoking fears of a debt trap and riling India, which has traditionally held sway in the region, and the United States.