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Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud attends a banquet hosted by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (not shown in the picture) at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, on March 13, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia has canceled a planned visit to the atoll nation of the Maldives over what has been described as the outbreak of swine influenza in the capital of the to the Indian Ocean archipelago.
Maldivian Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim announced on Friday that the visit, which had been scheduled for Saturday, “has been postponed due to the high prevalence of the flu in the Maldives.”
He added that a new date for the 81-year-old monarch’s trip to the tropical nation would be announced later. The Maldives was to be the final stop in King Salman’s month-long Asian tour that has already taken him to Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, China and Japan.
Health authorities say dozens of people have tested positive this month for the H1N1 influenza strain, also known as swine flu, in the Maldivian capital city of Male. Two people have lost their lives so far.
The government has ordered the closure of schools, and discouraged residents in neighboring islets from visiting the capital island.
This file photo shows a view of Faafu atoll, the Maldives.
The country's main opposition, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), had protested King Salman’s visit, accusing President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom of planning to sell an atoll to the Saudi regime.
Earlier this month, former President Mohamed Nasheed said the multi-billion dollar investment project on Faafu atoll would effectively give a foreign power control over the territory in a form of colonization by Saudi Arabia.
MDP members warned on March 3 that Faafu's sale to Saudi Arabia would promote Wahhabism in the country.
The Maldives is reportedly one of the highest per capita contributors of foreign militants to the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, which has been wreaking havoc mainly in Syria and Iraq.  
Wahhabism is the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia, freely preached by government-backed clerics there, and inspiring terrorists worldwide. Daesh and other Takfiri terror groups use the ideology to declare people of other faiths as “infidels” and then kill them.
Indian English-language daily newspaper The Times of India had described the Maldives' potential sale of Faafu atoll to Saudi Arabia as "another security challenge" to India in its neighborhood.

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