New Delhi: India on Monday congratulated Maldivian foreign minister Abdulla Shahid on his election as the President of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, saying it looked forward to working with him to strengthen multilateralism.
“Heartiest felicitations to Foreign Minister of Maldives @abdulla_shahid on his election as President for 76th UN General Assembly,” external affairs minister S. Jaishankar tweeted.
India supported foreign minister Shahid’s candidature to the prestigious post.
“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,” Jaishankar said in another tweet.
Shahid has been elected the President of the 76th United Nations General Assembly (PGA) with an overwhelming majority.
It is a post held on an annual basis, rotated amongst various regional groupings.
The 76th session (2021-22) is the turn of the Asia-Pacific group.
The Maldives had announced Shahid’s candidature in December 2018. At that time, no other candidate was in the fray.
India announced its support for Shahid during the visit of foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla to the Maldives in November 2020.
Even at that time, he was the only candidate in the fray, sources said.
In mid-January 2021, in a surprising development and less than six months before the elections, Afghan foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul entered the fray.
While Rassoul also has strong credentials, by the time his candidature was announced, the Maldives had already garnered extensive support, the 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,” said a source.
“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 Maldives,” the source said.
The PGA’s office is the highest office in the UN System, and reflects the collective goodwill of the 193 member states of the UN.
The sources said India remained committed to supporting the office of the PGA, as it has consistently done in previous years.