Watch: Papua New Guinea's Marape touches PM Modi's feet. BJP reacts
Narendra Modi arrived in Papua New Guinea for talks with Pacific leaders, the first visit by an Indian premier to the island nation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Papua New Guinea on Sunday for talks with Pacific leaders, the first visit by an Indian premier to the island nation as India seeks to counter growing Chinese regional influence.
He landed just after 10pm local time in the capital Port Moresby. At the airport, in an unprecedented break of protocol, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape touched the feet of Modi when he landed.
He will co-host the Summit of the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation on Monday with Marape and other Pacific island leaders.
Bharatiya Janata Party national spokesperson Sambit Patra called it a “remarkable gesture”. “…the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea pays respects to the Hon’ble PM Shri @narendramodi Ji by touching his feet. This profound visual exemplifies India's growth and influence under the leadership of PM Modi,” Patra tweeted.
Another BJP spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill also reacted to the video. “As they say respect is earned & this video of Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape greeting PM Modi shows India’s strength, respect in world under strong well meaning leadership of PM @narendramodi Ji . Jai Hind,” Shergill tweeted.
Filmmaker Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri too tweeted. “Wow! Papua New Guinea Prime Minster James Marape touches feet of Indian Prime Minister @narendramodi. Proud to have a @PMOIndia who brings home so much love, confidence and respect for India.”
"Reached Papua New Guinea. I am thankful to PM James Marape for coming to the airport and welcoming me. This is a very special gesture which I will always remember. I look forward to boosting India's ties with this great nation during my visit," Modi tweeted.
Why it's a rare gesture
Normally, Papua New Guinea doesn’t give a ceremonial welcome to any leader coming after sunset. But a special exception was made for Modi and a ceremonial welcome was accorded to him.
"A grand beginning of an important visit! PM @narendramodi arrives in Port Moresby on what is the first-ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Papua New Guinea. Accorded a 19-gun salute, guard of honour & ceremonial welcome. As a special gesture, PM James Marape received PM Modi at the airport," ministry of external affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.
The prime minister was also warmly greeted by the Indian community.
On Monday, Modi and Marape will host the third summit of the Forum for India–Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC). The summit will take place at a time when China is making efforts to enhance its military and diplomatic influence in the region.
"I am grateful that all 14 Pacific Island Countries (PIC) have accepted the invitation to attend this important summit (FIPIC)," Modi had said earlier.
The FIPIC was launched during his visit to Fiji in 2014.
The FIPIC Summit will see participation from leaders of 14 countries. Normally all of them rarely converge together due to connectivity and other issues, sources said.
PIC includes Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Modi will also hold bilateral talks with Marape and meet Bob Dadae, the Governor General of Papua New Guinea.
He will also meet New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.
(With inputs from agencies)